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What Is UX Design? Your Guide To UX or User Experience Design

499 words Read time 02:32

UX stands for User Experience design. You might have heard the term Product Design or maybe User Interface design. And you’ll be asking yourself what’s the difference? Well, the truth is that there’s usually a unique blend of all of these practices when it comes to someone that you might define as a great designer.

But User Experience, in particular, can be described as the most empathetic part of the design practice. It has it right in the name, the user's experience. Since John Maeda and other great design practitioners can tell you, the design is what you experience and feel not what you see aesthetically. Aesthetics are a small fraction of what we classify as good design. User Experience can be classified as the most modern form of digital product design.

Here are the three key terms we here often: Product Design, User Experience, User Interface. So what’s the difference between the others and UX Design? If you can envision a paved path for a moment, this path is windy. It has a curvature to it. It's in a park. Its where we are telling our visitors to go and how to go about getting there. But then for some reason, there’s a dirt path. Somewhere that visitors have decided is a better route for them. It has fewer steps but it's not paved with asphalt. That route is what would classify User Experience and the asphalt path is User Interface. Sometimes the path our visitors, customers, and users want to take is one that’s different than what we had originally anticipated. Listening to that, responding to it, and designing for them — is UX.

The best UX design principles can be listed as follows. You are thinking empathetically about the end user, meaning you are not using purely qualitative hunches to determine the best path for them. You are researching your core audience and demographics to determine how to best mold your solution for them. You are determining clear, simple and well-understood paths for the end user. You are thinking through environmental and cultural patterns which you can fit your solution into, including technology device learning behavior and more. You are thinking through multi-scenario variants and navigation paths which can be simplified to allow value attrition to occur over time.

A great example of modern UX design is Uber's mobile application. It delivers the goal with as little steps as possible. You push a button, a car arrives. This process so closely revolves around what we believe to be called “Product” that it can sometimes be confusing. This is why UX designers often sit in the Product Management part of technology organizations. While UX design cannot guarantee that your product will succeed in the market, it is the utilization of the practice that can hedge your bet against how well its received for your core customer.

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