Product Design

Jan. 15, 2018

/ product design

What is User Experience? A guide to UX terminology (pt. 2)

Maria Borowy

The technology area is evolving, and so does the User Experience approach. It's a quite new domain that tests new ways of working and collaborating with clients and development teams. That's a why recently a lot of new methodologies and professions were introduced. Here's what they mean.

In my previous article, I explained terms that refer to the product design process. Today I would like to focus on the other terminology that popped up recently and is more about how User Experience Designers work.

Apart from the steps of the design process and the order they are taken in, the way of implementing them can vary. The difference could be in the way new ideas are generated and how and when they are tested. All depends on the products, resources, time and budget, access to the end users, and development methodology (Waterfall or Agile). At the end of the article, I am going to write a short paragraph on UX profession itself and the terms that are related to it.

UX terminology

User-Centred Design (UCD)

It's the approach in the product design process, meaning that designers are focused on users' needs and the way they interact with the product. This requires User Experience research and test to collect insight and validate assumptions. In the results, we get a product that is tailored to the users. 

 

Human-centered design is characterised by the active involvement of users and a clear understanding of user and task requirements; an appropriate allocation of function between users and technology; the iteration of design solutions; multi-disciplinary design.

- ISO 13407

It is important to understand that there is no one general characteristic of a user for all products. Each product has its own users that face problems concerning this particular field or the way they interact with the product. 

For example, users of popular graphic design software might have different skills, habits, and needs than the ones of the popular instant messenger. That's why we can't create one profile for a "general user"; each product needs its own analysis to know more about people that will use it and in what context the interaction will occur

Design Thinking

It's a methodology used in the initial phases of product design. It is a set of creative workshops techniques that help to analyze business objectives and users needs. Design Thinking is about finding solutions that both fit users and will meet business goals. When using those techniques, designers collect requirements and principles for the further work: Interaction Design, Informations Architecture, Content Strategy, etc

Lean UX

It's a methodology of working where all findings and ideas are validated. All assumptions are prioritised and validated, which means that each feature is designed and tested in the very early stage. Lean UX is very useful in organisations that work in Agile methodologies and requires collaboration with the whole development team (Product Owner, Developers, Designers). Google Design Sprint is based on this methodology but it is more structured and has additional rules.

Design Sprint

It's a methodology of designing products or working on product improvement that is used by Google design teams. The main idea is to go through the whole product design process (share insights, ideate, prototype, and test)  in one 5 day sprint.  It means that designers don’t try to design the whole product at once but rather focus on a particular part of it. The main goal is to have fast feedback about the designed features and to make fast decisions about the direction in which development should go. 

Design Systems

This is a way of designing the site or application based on previously designed atomic components. Atomic components are independent elements that can be repeated on many pages or on the same website, for example, an offer tile, a text field, or a call to action button. Those components can build such molecules as a listing of offers or newsletter form. In Design System methodology they are standardized and, what is more important, there is a guideline on how and when use them to build any view.

Additional terms that you can come across when learning about UX

  • Systems design
    Systems Design is the process of planning the whole ecosystem that surrounds interface: backend, frontend, and data architecture. It's a complex architecture of the digital product.
  • CXM - Customer Experience Management
    This term is connected with Service Design but refers strictly to the organisation (company and its processes) and their customer service. It is not only design of the product but also the implementation of user-centred approach among the whole organization. It requires changes in processes and procedures if they have a negative impact on the usability or communication with clients. 

Who's behind this? About UX/UI Designers

All UX design work is performed mostly by two professions: UX and UI Designers. Below you will find the list of methodologies and steps in the design process (described in the articles) matched with the profession that is responsible for it. 

In some organisations, these two roles are mixed, and UX Designer is also responsible for the graphic design. Among UX Designers there might be a differentiation between researchers and designers. The first ones collect data, while the latter work on solutions based on that data. The bigger the organisation, the bigger the specialisation in particular fields can be noticed among designers. 

This might be the reason why there are so many different terms for UX Design profession that you can come across: Digital Product Designer, UX Architect, UX Specialist, Interaction Designer, Information Architect, etc. If you decide to do your project with Merixstudio, you will work with UX Designer and UI Designer so the responsibilities will be divided between the two specialists. 

There's, however, one additional (and very magical) term that needs to be described in this UX Dictionary:

UX Unicorn 

As you noticed, UX Design profession requires a lot of knowledge and experience in many fields, especially if it is combined with UI Design. Moreover, in some companies, there are even more specific requirements for User Experience job, such as experience in marketing, product management, and programming. That is why it is not easy to find a person who possesses all that skills and in all of them has a certain level of experience. Such UX Designers are called UX Unicorns. :) Just like the mythical creature, they are very rare and hard to catch. 

Let's match terminology with the profession

User Experience Designer (UX Designer)

User Interface Designer (UI Designer)

UX Unicorn

  •  User Experience;
  • Usability;
  • UX research;
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI);
  • Interaction Design (IxD);
  • Information Architecture (IA);
  • Web accessibility;
  • UX content strategy;
  • UX audit / Usability engineering;
  • Usability test;
  • Service Design;
  • UX Strategy;
  • Design Sprint;
  • Design Thinking;
  • Lean UX;
  • User-Centred Design (UCD).

 

  •  User Interface Design UI - visual design and corporate identity;
  • Web accessibility,
  • Usability;
  • User-Centred Design (UCD).

 

  •  User Interface Design UI - visual design and corporate identity;
  • User Experience;
  • Usability;
  • UX research;
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI);
  • Interaction Design (IxD);
  • Information Architecture (IA);
  • Web accessibility;
  • UX content strategy;
  • UX audit / Usability engineering;
  • Usability test;
  • Service Design;
  • UX Strategy;
  • Design Sprint;
  • Design Thinking;
  • Lean UX;
  • User-Centred Design (UCD);
  • Web development.

 

Summary

In both parts of my UX guide, I've collected all the main User Experience terms that are used when dealing with the Product Design. You may have an impression that this is a very complicated process that's filled with buzzwords. Moreover, it makes the whole process longer since before you get a sketch or wireframe of your site, there is a lot of work to be done. 

However, without proper User Experience approach, you'll risk a lot. Research shows that: 

 

Companies with highly effective UX have increased their revenue by 37%, and top 10 UX leaders in America outperform the S&P with close to triple the returns – a significant lead. This clearly shows the ROI of UX design.

- UX Passion

When working on your project with Merixstudio, you will get not only a software developed with great detail but also tailored to your needs thanks to UX. Feel free to contact us to get more information!

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