It Is Impossible to Design an Experience
When describing my job, I often say I design digital experiences. However, technically designers cannot design a specific experience. We cannot force someone to enjoy what we have created. This is because everyone experiences life differently. One single experience relies on emotional, environmental, and social factors. No two users will have exactly the same experience. What designers can do is design for an intended experience. Collecting research, interviewing, observing, and planning extensively allows for designers to create the framework for delightful experiences.
Plan the Experience
Designing an experience means creating circumstances which result in planned behaviors from users. The user's potential experience is in the hands of UX designers. UX designers should always advocate for the needs of the users. Drawing from human factors, social sciences, and design, User Experience designers have a unique perspective on problem solving. Our goal is to get the users from point A to point B in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible.
Lead The Users
Users come to us in a vulnerable state. They have let go of all inhibitions and decided to give us a chance. As designers, we have only a short period of time to show them that we have a product worth their time. In my previous blog, I mentioned that we only have 3 seconds to capture the attention of our users. Once we have their attention, it is time for us to lead the users through their experience. Designers must help the users reach their end goal.
Keep It Simple
Users act in a goal-oriented fashion. Though your designs might be beautiful, if they are not easy to use they become useless. Instead of adding more information to the screen, make a list of all potential features and then cross off everything that is not completely necessary to the core functionality. If your website or application works with only one button on the screen, then there is no need to distract the users with bonus features. Positive experiences are derived from ease of use and quality of service. Users want to know that they are spending their precious time doing something that will benefit them.
More Than An Interface
Often UX designers find themselves in User Interface Designer roles. Designing visuals is a big part of UX, but it should not be the primary function. Using UX techniques such as user interviews, usability testing, sketches, flow diagrams, and prototyping allows for the designer to have a much deeper understanding of the potential experience. How the user interacts with the interface is as important as the design itself. The UX planning process is essential to the success of the user experience.
Value of User Experience
Creating great User Experiences will keep users coming back for more. In my previous blog, Why User Experience Matters, I mention that User Experience makes your website or application a destination rather than a pit stop. Facilitating positive experiences at every touch point will ultimately improve your business.
The UX Unicorn
Demand for User Experience professionals is at an all time high. Companies are beginning to see the value in creating products and services that users love. UX jobs seem to be popping up all over the place. However, there is one problem: finding the perfect UX designer is like hunting for a unicorn. The unrealistic expectation that UX designers must be part developer, part designer, and part wizard, leads to disappointment. The reality is that finding remarkable designers who can also code is very rare. Instead of searching for an illusive creature, companies should focus on finding someone who is going to help you create a better experience for your users. If you are lucky enough to find a designer that can produce quality visuals, has empathy for users, and works well with others, my advice is to stop searching for Unicorns and hire that person. When it comes to UX, the ability to create pleasant experiences far outweighs technical skills. You can teach people how to code, use Photoshop, or design a website, however you cannot teach creativity.