Is user experience design just a state of mind?

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With digital evolving at a high speed of knots, user experience (ux) designers can often find themselves in a continual state of flux trying to keep pace with best practices and consumer expectations.

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Although the core principles of user experience design are fairly established, user experience designers have to maintain adaptable to change with flexible minds to learn new technologies, ux design techniques and approaches.

There are a myriad of web design agencies and web designers across the digital industry, but significantly less specialist ux design agencies and ux designers. This may be attributed to the practice generally demanding a much higher skills set than required of a typical web designer, as well as a general lack of awareness around the merits and credibility of this practice.
There has been a lot of industry noise made in recent years about web design being dead, which may be true when considering the emergence of user experience, so it may be seen as a relief for many (already au fait with ux), that the general trend is quickly shifting across to designing for the user.

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Can it be argued that user experience can’t be designed?

According to Smashing Mag editor Helge Fredheim, it is completely plausible to believe that “a designer cannot design the user or the situation”. If that is the case, Kevin Nichols, co-author of UX for Dummies states “Your user experience is what houses and positions your content to your users by creating a structure, design, and architecture that facilitates the success or failure of the consumer relationship between a brand and its content.”

From this, we can already see that there is far more to user experience for websites than just design itself; and that ux designers should always consider what constitutes effective design. There is therefore far more of a strategic process involved within ux web design as opposed to traditional web design, with this process aiming to determine the psychology and behavioral traits of users which lead to more positive outcomes. Where typical web design aims to deliver the aesthetics to make websites pleasing to the eye, user experience takes design much further out of the box through factoring in elements which determine the success/failure rate of website engagement and conversion rates.

The importance of getting design right the first time

The user experience journey of one individual can evolve over time. Case-in point, within our recent post highlighting the difficulty experienced on the BTSport app when trying to engage with various touch-points. It can be true to say that the first time a user tries an app or a website, it can be easy to become confused, leading to a negative experience. It can also be said though that the more adjusted the user becomes to the same app or a website, the greater potential there is to learn how to handle it. This said, second chances are very rarely granted by users, so getting the design right the first time is the key to a successful user experience.

Summarising the importance of UX design

The principles of ux design cannot simply be adopted off the cuff and put into practice without the correct skills, competencies or tools to support the process. User experience design can therefore be considered to be far more than simply a state of mind, but even more of a process which is not only more labour intensive and strategic than traditional design, but one which considers the skills of lateral thinking with the support of ux tools to support the effective delivery of websites. For this reason, user experience design is very quickly becoming the more intelligent approach to designing websites.

Original post appeared here


Owain Powell

Author: Owain Powell

Owain works in Digital Marketing for Decibel Digital, a Digital Agency based in Shoreditch, London.