What is UX and Why Should You Care?

August 16, 2018

Ben Ben Townsend

There’s a bit of a buzz around UX (short for user experience) right now, most likely because of the huge rise in mobile device usage in recent years.

You’ve probably come across a website that isn’t designed properly for mobile, and so reading and browsing it is a frustrating experience. You may well have clicked the back button and abandoned it after a couple of seconds.

If you offer a poor user experience, you’ll almost certainly be losing out on customers. This is why it’s so important that today’s businesses give top priority to UX when it comes to their websites, apps, and products.

What You Need to Know About UX

UX designers are employed full time to design websites and products optimised for customer experience. If you don’t have the budget to employ one, there are 5 key parts of the process to be aware of:

Market Research – it’s vital to know your audience and understand their needs. The user should be always kept in mind so that you can consider what will really benefit them, rather than arbitrary features.
UX Design Is Constantly Evolving – there’s no clear end to the UX process. You should be prepared to carry out ongoing usability and split A/B testing as well as soliciting user feedback in order to make continual improvements.
Simplicity Is Key – when it comes to UX, simple is always better. Rather than aiming for fancy designs and complex functionality, focus on making it clear to the user what they should do next.
Prototyping Is Essential – UX designers create wireframes and prototypes to make sure that the user journey and functionality is solid. Don’t leap straight into design and development until you have a clear and tested prototype or you’ll be wasting time and money.
UX Design Should Be Collaborative – it’s impossible for one person, even a highly-experienced UX designer, to anticipate all problems and come up with perfect solutions. Your team should work together to share ideas and feedback, and spot usability issues that an individual might have missed.

What’s the Difference Between UI and UX?

UI or user interface is the literal page, screen, and visual elements such as buttons and menus that the user interacts with to navigate your website or app.

UI is therefore a small part of UX, but the focus is more on the visual design such as the colours and buttons of a website. On the other hand, UX designers consider the entire user experience including how people navigate through the site, making sure that their needs are met, and the overall impression of your company that they’ll leave with.

To illustrate this, Google.com has a very simple UI – it’s just a logo and a text box. However, the UX delivers amazing value – so much so that it’s used over 3.5 billion times a day.

Does UX Really Apply to Me?

UX may be a bit of a buzzword at the moment, but it’s certainly not a new concept. User experience design has been around at least since the 1950s, and pretty much any industry that designs a physical or digital product that people use needs to consider UX.

For example, could you imagine trying to drive a car that had the gear stick in a weird place and had the steering wheel positioned in such a way that gave you backache to use it? Even if this car looked amazing, the user experience would be terrible, and so it would be highly unlikely to succeed as a consumer product.

It’s important to consider UX not just for your company website but also every product that a potential customer will interact with.

Further Reading
Want to learn more? Jakob Nielsen is considered by many to be one of the world’s leading experts in web usability, and he co-founded the Nielsen Norman Group, which offers various free UX and usability resources as well as consulting and training.

Other helpful resources: