User Experience Design (or UX design for short) focuses not on what a website or web app looks like, but what it feels like; how it's used and the journey you take through it.
It's an essential consideration that improves usability and accessibility as well as providing frictionless and enjoyable interaction throughout the website or web app. It does this by putting the user at the centre and seeks to understand what they need, what challenges they face, how they think, and what they value.
In turn, UX design helps shape the rest of the project. It ensures that what we’re doing meets the expectations of the user and therefore achieves the aims of investing in the project in the first place.
Whereas User Interface (UI) Design focusses on the presentation of the website/web app, User Experience (UX) Design focusses on the quality of the interaction for the user. It'd be impossible to have one without the other.
UI is the saddle, the stirrups, & the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.– Dain Miller
User Experience Design helps with four key areas:
- Defining your goals
- Understanding your audience
- Staying on schedule and on budget
- Driving business growth
1. Define your goals
At Club, in order for us to produce our best possible work, it’s important we understand the goals of your business and for the project.
Before even opening Sketch to start any designs, we work closely with your team until we’re agreed on what it is we need to achieve.
It's only once ideas are shared and different perspectives are considered that we can all be confident that we're on the right path. This part is key to us all understanding what needs to be done, helps to plan how it will be achieved, and gives us a benchmark to measure success against.
2. Understand your audience
A nice website counts for little if it doesn’t meet the needs of the user or help them to achieve their end goal. If it hasn’t been designed with them in mind from the outset it can result in frustration - and that's something that a user will forever relate to your brand.
Plus, a badly planned UX is not easily resolved. It leads to reopening the discussion around the core strategy and design, which effectively means starting over.
To your audience, the journey through the website or web app should be effortless - but achieving simplicity is anything but simple.
Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.– Albert Einstein
Making UX simple relies on knowing exactly what needs to be there and more importantly, exactly what doesn't. A great UX design ensures that navigation is second nature and without friction or guesswork. The only way to achieve this level of simplicity is through a complex understanding of your users and what their journey should be.
In doing this, there's an added bonus:
The content writes itself
How do you know what to say and how to say it if you’re not certain of who it is you’re speaking to? Understand your audience and you’ll find it much easier to define a tone that will resonate with them and create content that will prove effective.
Users don’t spend long reading (less than six seconds in fact) so it’s vital that what you do say is useful and where it's said is relevant.
The details gathered in the UX phase ensure you’re equipped with all you need to create engaging website content.
3. Stay on schedule and on budget
Making informed decisions early on makes for a much more solid foundation to work from. Get the design and experience of a website right the first time and you mitigate the risk of expensive redesigns down the road.
Having a properly informed and intentional base allows you to focus on more iteration-based design that is about tweaking and improving on what is an already successful website or product.
A clear consensus on what needs to be achieved also makes it easier to maintain the previously agreed project schedule. And so, whilst there may be other factors that cause the schedule to slip, a lack of clarity regarding the objectives will not be one of them.
Using prototypes to spot potential problems...
As part of the design process here at Club, we produce clickable prototypes that resemble the look and feel of the final product but without having committed any time to the UI design and development phases. Prototypes confirm how everything links together, exposes potential pitfalls in a user journey and prompts discussion to help guide the final version.
4. Drive business growth
At Club, not only do we help clients achieve the goals of the project but we also look at the bigger picture to make sure we're thinking long-term as well as short. We’re creative types and if we think there is scope to do something better or to explore an opportunity, we will communicate that to you along the way.
If you’ve successfully defined your business goals and understood your audience, not only will you be better placed to deliver a website on time and on budget, but your website and its content will be engaging, memorable and above all profitable. A considered and collaborative UX phase is key to making sure this happens.
If you have a project in mind or would like more advice on UX design, please get in touch.