User experience (UX) is part of the creative process our design team uses to consider acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. Ultimately it’s about defining a product that provides meaningful and relevant experiences to users in all forms.

Going Beyond User Interface (UI) Design

UX is often used interchangeably with terms such as UI, but while UI is an important aspect of UX, it is not the whole piece of the puzzle. UX considers many other key areas. A UX designer is concerned with the entire process from a potential customer’s point of view – purchasing and using a product in their life. This includes understanding aspects of current branding, its previous design and functions if applicable and how it is or can be used. UX traces back before it reaches a customer’s awareness. This is potentially where UX blurs with Customer Experience (CX) and why UX is a subset of CX as a practice.

While we can get bogged down in everything around a product, it is still all about a user’s journey. A user’s experiences and emotions associated from awareness through to purchase through to usability. Then it is about the assistance that might be needed, the servicing it may or not require and any maintenance and how that is addressed and does this all align perfectly for the customer.

An example:

The iPhone

It’s more than a phone, for some it is almost an evangelical experience when a new one comes on the market. It’s the excitement, that unforgettable typeface and the touch. Apple have a whole department making the unpackaging an experience in itself, the impossibly smooth texture and wrapping goes beyond most products – and this is before holding the phone itself. For UX it is all about understanding this pleasure and efficiency and, as with the iPhone, the fun as well. So it’s hard to have one single explanation of a good UX – the context means so much.

Why, What and How – The story of the creative UX process

All to be considered with no stone unturned:

  • The Why is about motives. Is a product just to perform an action, or does this product relate to their own views and values that they want to be associated with their ownership of a device, membership or use.
  • The What is about function. What can someone do with this product? For example with the iPhone, someone can conduct their whole life and/or virtual life with a few clicks.
  • The How is about design of the function. Does it need to be aesthetically pleasing or just accessible (considering the abilities and limitations of all), or as often as possible both. 

UX starts with why before determining what and how that follow. This is the picture of creating something or designing something that users can form a meaningful experience with. If a non physical product – substance will be key and how it translates through a mobile device as an example. Is it a fluid, fast and smooth experience without any tethering issue?!

UX is the people’s champion – customer centric. Depending on the product, UX requires differing tasks but it usually considers research, quantitative and qualitative, initially designing a set of user personas, designing prototyped wireframes of an interaction and the testing of all of this. Understanding the user and their situation is the context that allows us to begin with the why.

Wireframes for City of Bristol College website.
Design stage of the wireframes.

This blog is part of a wider series around why we think UX, CX and EX are important in more depth. You can read our first blog in the series here.

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