What is UX? What does UX design involve? The answer to these questions are probably different depending on who you ask. And in all likelihood each answer could be correct. User Experience is at the heart of everything we do.
Searching online, the best nutshell description for UX is:
“… a good user experience is one that meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where he or she uses the product.” ¹
Figuring out who the ‘particular user’ is is a vast area of UX insight itself. The ‘product’ is what we create, and can be anything – a TV ad, a web banner, even a pamphlet. For myself and the development team the product is invariably a website.
In the dev room we regularly do what we call ‘Code Challenges’ – this involves the team being presented with a problem and then working, at first individually, to develop a solution. We then get together to present, review and discuss our solutions. These challenges are usually focused on pure web development and coding, but for our latest challenge we decided to cross over into User Experience Design. This challenge, which came to be known as ‘Fluffy Love’, had the following objective: design and build the homepage for a dating website for cat lovers. Yes, very niche. The design had two requirements:
- Quickly convey the purpose of the service, i.e. this is website for connecting cat lovers.
- Encourage the user to sign up for the service.
The team were also allowed to replace ‘cats’ with the animal of their choice, with only one team member choosing to go for aquatic sea life instead.
The challenge progressed from ideas and simple wire-framing, to high fidelity designs and finally finished with working prototypes. Have a look at what we came up with using the links at the end of the article.
From the outset, this was one of our most fun and funny challenges. I think we found every cat pun out there, and we were all surprised to discover that Russian websites are a gold mine for stock images of couples with cats. Who knew?
Although we don’t often think about it, in web development we make decisions which affect User Experience all the time – whether it’s placing and styling a form button or configuring the speedy content delivery on a page, it all has an impact on the end user experience. The whole team found that this challenge made them think differently about what they were building, and more importantly why. It was a great experience – and as Lead Dev of a team who spend most of their time writing code, I was truly astonished to see the breadth of ideas, insight and creativity which they produced.
So what does UX design involve? At its core, it’s about pretending to be someone else. It’s about stepping aside from your own likes, instincts and preferences and imagining how will ‘this’ person experience this. For most people this is not an easy thing to do. And to be honest, in the creative industry (devs included) – where it’s natural for people to think their own idea is the best idea, it can be an incredibly hard thing to do.
Please note any imagery has been used solely for fun and educational purposes.
If you want to find out more about UX Design and how Union Digital can help your website be more user-friendly, you can contact us at email@example.com
Chris Smith, Lead Developer.
¹Interaction Design Foundation (https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design)