For years, if you wanted a website, you’d need to have it built by a web developer or programmer. You’d convey your desires to the programmer, roughly, and they’d create something that delivered on what you requested.
It wouldn’t necessarily work well for the user, but then that’s not what you would have asked for. A developer’s job is to do what they’re asked and make things work and function from a technical perspective.
Then, as things developed, front-end designers came into being in order to make things aesthetically pleasing for the user. Even today, it’s surprising what a good-looking website can achieve in the mindset of clients.
We’ve seen clients who had old, clunky legacy systems that work as intuitively as algebra, yet they wanted nothing more than a refreshed front-end. Sometimes, a newer-looking design, some well-coordinated coloring and a few nice buttons can make a big difference in the client’s perspective of a digital tool’s quality or usefulness. However, this digital lick of paint often only coats cracks in an otherwise dysfunctional and confusing journey. If it looks good, but functions poorly, it’s still badly designed.
So, if we have programmers that make the back-end work and designers that make the front-end pretty, who is responsible for the over-arching user experience? Who’s responsible for the identification of user wants and needs? Navigation? The organization of content? The presentation of information? Cue the User Experience (UX) Designer.
UX design includes:
- User research,
- Information architecture,
- User testing,
- Usability and functionality,
- Content design
It’s everything related to making websites, apps and digital tools for the end user; the people that actually use it; not the client and not the developer. It’s user-centric and people-focused.
UX design is by no means a new role, globally speaking. In fact, many companies have been employing UX designers for years. Recently, however, the importance of user-centric design is growing. Companies and government have been forced into investing in the creation of seamless and as user-friendly solutions due to the following marketing conditions:
- Rising user expectations – Big-budget companies like Google and Apple that specialize in usability, raise the expectations of users. Online, we’ve got to keep up if we want to keep our current customers and attract new ones.
- Increased competition - It’s a lot easier to get online and trade these days and more businesses are taking the leap. For e-commerce stores, you’re competing with Amazon and Google, the SMEs and even the average Joe on eBay. More competition means we need to do more in order to convert and keep customers.
- More opportunity – The average daily time spent online is rising every year. If people are spending longer online, then we have more of an opportunity to reach them, but our UX has to be unnoticeably smooth and better than our competition.
Having a website created is easier than ever. Having a website that looks cool is just as simple. Having a website that is a pleasure to use, adds to the user/brand experience and meets your customer needs better than your competition takes a little more work. It requires a specialist. It requires a UX designer.