What is user experience design and how does it work? You’re probably familiar with the phrase “reinventing the wheel”. Well, user experience design is a little bit like that. At a high level, user experience design (UXD or UED) is a broad term that covers all aspects of a user’s experience with your system. This includes the interface, graphics and images they see and how they physically interact with it, such as with a mouse, a touchpad or a motion sensing system like the Kinect.
One of the key aspects of good UXD is getting creative and experimental with how things work while keeping aligned to what works and to key design foundations. This leaves a lot of room for innovation and the potential to create completely new products but what often surprises people is the methodical process that drives the inspiration. Inspiration does not spontaneously arrive; it comes from hard work and dedication to the design method and process.
What is the Design Method?
The design method is the process of creating better design solutions by taking various situations and applying quantitative and qualitative research methods through critical thinking. The end user should consistently be the focus of all design methods. The user is who you are designing for and the user is always the center of your inspiration.
The design method is used to describe how the design process is organized. It ensures that not only social, political and geographical elements are considered when using your particular design method. For example, how will different people with varying backgrounds use the product and do they even need the product? Let’s look at baking soda; one person may use baking soda to clean items around their house while another uses it purely for baking. Both use the same product, but used in different ways depending on the needs of that person.
Where does Process converge with design Method?
Many designers use the two terms interchangeably, as they are very much the same, but they do have their own qualities that need to be considered. While the process (the order of operations) could be described as the shell that surrounds creating an outcome, the method is what you use to complete each step of the design process, or simply, how you do it.
Part of having a good design process and method comes from practice, practice, practice! Just like honing other skills such as learning tennis, following a specific method helps, but if it is not practiced it will be very hard to implement. This is especially true when strict deadlines are ahead, and the creative juices just aren’t flowing.
Tune in next week for the conclusion of this post where we’ll discuss how to get the creative juices of UXD flowing and ways to find inspiration.