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User experience (UX) has been getting a lot of attention these days, but many businesses are confused about the actual meaning of it. In my opinion, it can be defined as the summation of different considerations i.e. defining the information structure, enabling the users to manipulate the data/information, and communicate the different possibilities to the users.
Many web designers like themselves to be called as ‘user experience designer’. It always befuddles me when I hear such a thing, and I always ask how one designs ‘user experience? As we all know UX depends on product, the user, and also the environment in which the product is used. We would like to get certain things cleared before entering in more details, and we think you will also agree on the below 2 points:
We have been in the web application development industry for about a decade now, and our experience has provided us enough knowledge that we can confidently say that users are different.
For Example: When a Facebook application is developed, different users test it, and we receive different feedback from them. For some of the users, using the application is easy and for some it is difficult. Users have expectations and they derive from their previous experiences while interacting with other products, so the main point to grasp from all of this is that users cannot be designed, they all have different expectations, different goals and different history.
As said earlier, UX also depends on the environment in which the product is used. Environment is far away from what can be designed. There may be some features of an application user may like, but some of them might be annoying to a particular user.
UX evolves with time. For example: Facebook ticker, my first thought was ‘What is Facebook thinking?’, but later on as the time passed by the annoyingness of the ticker faded and I was comfortable using the ticker. Remember the first time I saw the ticker, I wanted it to be removed but now I use it.
We think now you might be with us on the point that UX cannot be designed. If you are a designer and call yourself a UX designer, we would suggest you to re-consider (LOL).
You might wonder what are we talking about now?, as we have just tried to convince you that you cannot design UX. The main focus of our in this context is that you can ‘design FOR UX’ not ‘design UX’. We can design the product or service and create different scenarios for user experience when we design it. We cannot design for user’s expectations and the environment in which the product or service will be used.
Designing UX and designing FOR UX has a very minor difference, but a very important one. It defines our limitations. It can also help us identifying the way how we want the UX to be. In order to provide something special for UX, we need to understand:
In order to design for UX, we need to understand what UX is all about. For example, knowing the variable of the product which helps users to judge the advantages of the product.
There are many models available for understanding UX. The best in our opinion is “Seven Facets of User Experience” by Peter Morville. In this model the UX is divided in seven aspects i.e. Useful, Usable, Valuable, Desirable, Credible, Findable, and Accessible.
Some say it may be the most difficult part as users are different. The popular approaches to understand users are surveys, research, interviews, observation etc. There are a lot of methods by which you can receive the feedback of users and understand what their expectations are.
It always is nice to receive something extra when you purchase something. For web applications, you need to make sure that your application serves the users effectively and efficiently, and in addition to this make the users think that the application you have created is amazing. I think it’s better to use a metaphor to define it in a simpler way “It’s from out of this world”.
As a designer, you have a responsibility on your shoulders to delight the application users, so that they like (instead love) your applications and websites. You need to understand that you are not designing UX but designing FOR UX. Follow one of the models presented on designing for UX and keep the considerations in your mind that you understand your users, you understand the UX, and also are willing to go an extra mile for providing the best to the users.
Cygnis Media follows a number of models for designing for UX. You can see the examples of our work on the below provided link: http://www.cygnismedia.com/case-studies/