June 7, 2018
Creating amazing user experiences is one of the most difficult jobs of software development. Even though the technical aspects of creating robust, feature-rich software can be exceedingly complex, UX design can be an even more nebulous process. The user experience is so very important to the perception of your software product regardless of its specifications. We’ve seen software with better specifications lose out to software products that create better user experiences with optimized user interfaces.
The task of the UX designer is to take a complex, abstract software product and turn it into something that any user, regardless of experience or technical knowledge, can employ intuitively. This task is actually a series of related activities that are embedded in every step, every layer, every aspect of software development. So while it may seem like a simple, straightforward job, it’s anything but.
Because it’s the nature of UX design, it’s necessary for UX designers to have a great deal of both theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Designers have to understand what works technically and they also have to understand what is appealing and intuitive to users. In order to understand what is intuitive for users, UX designers have to understand software design on an intuitive level themselves. They have to be able to understand the limitations of the software product they’re designing, the expectations of the software engineers, and the expectations of the user.
UX designers have a great deal of strategies that help them make designs that serve their users. One of these strategies is to create a user avatar or a customer persona. In this exercise, they attempt to understand how a user perceives an application, why they would use a software application, and how they would go about understanding the application.
When creating a UX persona, or avatar, UX designers imagine all sorts of personal details, such as occupation, likes and dislikes, and other behavioral traits. Creating these personas helps them better understand how to organize their designs and it helps them make sense of a deeply intricate and complex design process.
Creating personas shows how social the process of UX design really is. To master the design process, you must have a thorough understanding of how others perceive and understand software. The UX designer is in many ways a sort of software psychologist.
You have to understand the people who use your apps, the people creating the apps, and where their interests and goals intersect. This means you’ll have to be open to collaborating, communicating, and synthesizing all of the disparate opinions, perceptions, and expectations. This is in stark contrast to other facets of software development, that, in some ways, are unaffected, and can even flourish, in isolation.
The social nature of the design process is why creating great user experiences is nearly impossible in isolation. That is, great UX designers don’t make their designs alone. They work in concert with a team; a team of software engineers, architects, and other software designers. In order to flourish, designers need to be able to synthesize all of the information they get from all of these different individuals that comprise their team.
Collaboration is the crux of UX design. UX designers are liaisons: they translate abstract code into usable products. Isolation suffocates UX design. It’s nearly impossible to understand what’s going on in the minds of your potential users without interacting with them, asking for meaningful feedback, and revising your designs based on that feedback.
What if you’re a solo designer? There are still ways to find ways to collaborate and better your designs. Reaching out to other designers, reaching out to the design community, and reaching out to friends and potential users are great ways to get around this isolation. You may even consider hiring a design consultant to take a look at your designs during various phases of software development.
Making amazing user experiences is impossible to do alone. You’ll need a dedicated team of designers to pull it off — or at least a little outside help from consultants, freelancers, and the design community. With a little help from other designers and potential customers, amazing user experiences are made.
Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.