When you think of design, you typically think of graphics. Very few jump to one increasingly important area of design: user experience (UX) design. While not a new field, UX design hides in the shadows when people think about digital design. It’s often overlooked at a time where its importance reigns supreme. Today, in the most digitalized era we’ve ever known, people value delightful, stress-free experiences. UX designers provide that experience for them, but it’s not an easy feat. The entire process, from initial user research, strategy configuration, to designing the ultimate experience that drives both user and business value, doesn’t happen overnight. One of the most challenging parts of the job is simply defining the role.
As the Director of UX at Cake & Arrow, it’s common for people to ponder my day to day job functions, how my actions will help their business, and why they’re valuable to their consumers. What it really boils down to is trust. A large part of a UX designer’s job is to instill a sense of trust between them and the client. You have to prove that what you’re doing can and will work to resolve every possible problem. Establishing a well-rounded experience for the client will in turn showcase how great of an experience you can create for their users. In other words, the experience you create sets the standard for how others will perceive your work.
UX designers touch all pieces of the process. Designing a beautiful website or app comes down to more than beautiful design, it’s about transparency–creating an experience that’s seamless from start to finish. The goal is to separate the two elements—design and functionality—and highlight their respective importance in the overall process. UX designers do this by working cross-functionally; researching, developing, and designing with other team members across departments to navigate the best course of action for each phase of a project. The position requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Without user-research to back up the design, there wouldn’t be a design at all. Without the proper testing to measure design effectiveness, there wouldn’t be a final product. The integration of these tasks is necessary for the process and the members involved. To these versatile team members, weeks or months of discovery narrow down into a single, formulated design. One that brings the entire puzzle together.
In my line of work, it’s not uncommon to have multiple projects going on at once, each in their own separate phases of completion. With so many moving parts, it’s vital to get your design in front of the desired user, quickly and efficiently. As a UX designer, it’s your responsibility to test as often as possible. Testing is the heart and soul of the job and is what prepares us for the tasks we need to accomplish while supporting the ones we’ve already completed. Whether it’s internally or externally, formally, or out on the streets guerrilla style, a UX designer’s job is to test, test, and test again. It’s essential to look at things from a new perspective and ask others to do the same. Doing this validates your work and proves that you’ve taken the proper actions to satisfy the user at all touch points.
A UX designer can be summed up in two words: trial and error. In addition to their knowledge of beautifully crafted design, UX designers live by a set of guidelines that outline how they get to the ultimate heart of the consumer through easy, seamless, and enjoyable work. It’s a continuous loop of testing and validating. The end result giving way to a frictionless user experience. One that the UX designer enjoys creating, the client appreciates seeing, and the consumer loves using.