What is a UX Designer? (What do they do?)

What is a UX Designer? What do they do? In this video, I'll explain the answer to these questions.

UX stands for User Experience. This is how a user (who is a person like you and me) interacts and feels about a product that you make. Every company in the world wants people to use the product that they create and as a UX Designer, it’s your job to make something simple to use, solve a clear problem, and put the end-user at the center of the design process. Thinking about and understanding who is going to use your product is important. 

An example of a product you might work on could be creating a new e-commerce website for a fashion brand or adding additional features to an existing mobile banking app. 

That’s the great thing about being a designer, you can work across many different industries because the tasks remain the same. 

Either way, it’s really important for you as a designer to understand who you are designing for and the pain points they are facing. 

There are many different tools you can use as a UX Designer to research, design, and develop your ideas into a fully functional prototype that will be handed over to your development team later on.

When working as a UX Designer inside a company you will be part of what is now known as a scrum team. This is a collection of designers, developers, testers, and managers who all work together to make a product. Projects can last any duration and I’ve personally worked on projects which take over a year from start to finish and beyond. At different points during the project, your day-to-day work will look different. 

At the beginning of the project, it’s normal (and I’m going to put a little side note here as it’s different in every company) but it’s normally your task to research and understands who you are designing for and the problem you are trying to solve. Every project starts with a problem you are creating a solution for and this solution will probably change over time and you may discover more problems related to the project but as a designer, you are key to this understanding and rising it to the project manager or product owner as they are now called. 

After researching the problem and understanding in detail who is going to be using the product you can start to design the UI. 

UI stands for User Interface. User Interfaces are what you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Everything you see on a computer screen is a user interface. It’s the presentation layer to the application. UI design combines graphical design elements such as fonts, colors, images, and videos along with standard interaction patterns to produce a design. 

A lot of companies combine both roles as a UX UI designer and you take this design forward and add a lot more detail to it.

The UX design process is also known as the User-centered Design Process (UCD) and is essentially how you make a great digital product. 

The UCD is split up into 4 stages and it's all about understanding the problem you are trying to solve and testing with actual users along the way.

We've already spoken about the first 2 stages, research, and user interface design. The step is Testing and this is so important. The difference between the first design of your product and what makes it into the world can be night and day. This is all down to user feedback. Just imagine your first design as a draft and once you start showing users and getting feedback things will change. This is ok and one of the biggest skills of a UX designer - working with feedback. 

There are a lot of different techniques for gathering feedback on your designs. If you work in a large company you may have in-house testing facilities. When I worked at the BBC they had a fake living room environment set up with a glass wall where you can watch a live user test take place. Normally there will be someone from the business who has a list of tasks for a user to perform on your product. This can be quite eye-opening as you get to see how your design performs in a real-life scenario and it soon becomes obvious what the problems are.

The next step after you have incorporated all of this feedback into your design is the development process. In most companies now this is called scrum or agile development. Your design will be broken down into small pieces and every little detail will be discussed with the team and documented ready for development. 

Once your product has been developed and launched to the world there is still one final step of the design process and that's looking at analytics. As a designer, this is a fun and interesting step not to be forgotten. 

The user-centered design process is a loop - all of your analytics can now go back into your research phase and new problems can be discovered and improved. You can keep making your product better and better and now have a framework to do it in.

Ok, now you know the basics of what a UX designer is and do day today.
Web design
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