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User Experience Design: A Guide for Non-Designers

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What do you know about User Experience (UX) design?

User experience (UX) design can be a tricky and complicated field for beginners to grasp; as it involves a wide range of technical concepts (from wire-framing to usability testing). That's why, at Klyp, we have created this Overview to make it easy for those from multiple digital disciplines; to gain a basic understanding of what the user experience really means in a design context.

What is UX Design?

User Experience Design (UXD) is the process of improving a user's experience with a product or service. It involves researching human behaviour and interpreting this information to design processes which successfully guide users to achieve a desired outcome, such as making a purchase. The term UXD is used in relation to websites, applications and other systems. The purpose of these designs is to positively influence how users feel about the application or site, to ensure they have the ideal experience. In the early days of the internet, websites were simple, static pages serving information. Whereas today, such digital encounters are interactive experiences, with rich, engaging content. Increasingly, people have greater expectations about every touch point they have with a brand, product or service. The emotions users feel during each of these interactions contributes to their overall perception of the brand.

“Humans have always been emotional and have always reacted to the artefacts in their world emotionally.”
Alan Cooper, President of Cooper

It follows therefore, that a good UX Designer should be able to say yes to all the questions below:

  • Does the user find the application/site simple to navigate and easy to use?
  • Does the application/site offer the user value?
  • Does the user actually enjoy using the application/site?

So, what does a UX Designer do?

A UX Designer is more interested in the relationship between human users and computer-based products. They investigate and analyse how users feel about particular products. Then they apply this knowledge during product development to ensure the user has the best possible experience, with the product.

UX Designers conduct research, analyse and share their findings with other members of the development team, plus monitor development projects. They work on an assortment of projects, from start-ups to projects with substantial budgets, complex and long-term projects. All of these projects benefit from the expertise of UX Designers, who help to ensure the company receives a return on investment.

Why Does UX Matter?

I remember those days, going back a few years ago now, when UX was still not a widely recognised term. At that time, my job was mainly focused on designing “cool” websites. The design decisions made were based on assumptions about what looked good; regardless of the demonstrated success or failure of the design to result in the desired action. At that stage, the industry largely didn't implement UX practices during project development. Whereas, advances in technology now means the functionality of applications/websites is more diverse and complex. This has increased the number of players in the market and amplified the degree of competition. Approaching these projects from a UX perspective, increases the likelihood of success. The User Experience can make or break a design. You can have a great idea, big budget and technical resources but if your UX fails; it’s game over for your product or service.

Tech Terms You Need to Know as a UX Designer

When I first began my Design career, my technical vocabulary was limited. I had difficulty understanding, as well as communicating effectively with Front and Back-end Developers. They would casually throw tech terms and acronyms at me during meetings. I would have to go back to my desk to Google what I'd heard, to see if our thoughts truly aligned. I've compiled a list of common terms used in the digital space, so other Designers seeking clarification can prepare themselves for discussions with Web Development teams.

Common tech terms:

  1. A/B testing
    Comparing two versions of content or design to determine which one produces better results; also known as split testing.

  2. Android
    Open source operating system for smart devices, developed by Google; developers can customise the OS for different phones like Samsung.

  3. API (Application Program Interface)
    Set of protocols which determine how software components should interact.

  4. Beacon
    Technology which enables apps to identify the geographic location of the user, to determine the content served.

  5. Breadcrumb
    Navigational aid so users can track their progress through an interface.

  6. Bug
    System glitch.

  7. Cache
    Component which stores data, to serve that data faster in future.

  8. Chatbot
    Program which simulates human conversation, typically used for 24/7 customer service.

  9. CMS (Content Management System)
    Application managed by multiple users, to create, edit, publish, and archive content online.

  10. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
    Organised system/strategy for managing information and business interactions with existing clients or potential customer leads.

  11. CSS (Cascading Style Sheet)
    Describes how HTML elements should be displayed and controls the layout of multiple webpages at once, minimising the workload.

  12. DevOps (Development and Operations)
    Phrase referring to the agile relationship between Development and Information Technology operations; usually advocating for enhanced communication between these fields.

  13. Emoticons
    Graphical representation of human expressions, conveyed using keyboard character combinations.

  14. GitHub
    Online version control repository service for source code management; tracking changes made to files by multiple users plus additional features.

  15. Hack
    Quick yet effective method, although not necessarily sophisticated.

  16. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
    Programming language which is the foundation of webpage layout.

  17. IP (Internet Protocol) address
    Networking software with an identifying number that enables devices to communicate via the internet; also known as Transmission Control Protocol.

  18. iOS
    Operating System developed by Apple Inc. for iPhones, iPods, and iPads Apple devices.

  19. Javascript
    Programming language with first class functions, popular for scripting webpages.

  20. Mobile Web
    Browser-based internet services accessed from portable, wireless mobile devices.

  21. Open Source
    Decentralised software development where the free collaboration of peers is encouraged.

  22. Responsive
    Webpages with layouts designed to adapt for viewing on different devices, using only HTML and CSS.

  23. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
    Strategic practices to increase the quantity or quality of website traffic reaching a website via organic search engine results.

  24. Unit Testing
    Software testing of individual units of source code.

  25. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
    Network that connects remote users with internal company networks, with security mechanisms to prevent data being intercepted by other parties.

I encourage Designers to research these terms further to gain a better understanding. It will definitely come in handy, as you plan your career progression into UX and UI (User Interface) Design. The earlier you familiarise yourself with these terms, the sooner you can begin to communicate using tech lingo!

More UX Information

I definitely recommend these books about UX Design:

  1. The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman
  2. Don’t Make Me Think, (revised) by Steve Krug
  3. The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garret
  4. Designing Web Usability, by Jakob Nielson
  5. Simple and Usable: Web, Mobile and Interaction Design, by Giles Colborne

Getting your head around the entire UX Design process takes time. I hope this Overview will help you begin the journey to become a UX Designer - good luck!


Evon Evon Yong

About the author:
Evon is the in-house Designer at Klyp. she has also used her creative skills to paint an awesome mural in the Klyp office!