Thursday, April 21, 2016

What UX is and Isn't

Don't let the letters, UX, scare you, because all design is about UX. In fact, UX is just an abbreviation for user experience design which is the art and science of designing an experience for users.

I know there's a lot of discussion about the difference between UX, UI (user interface design), and graphic design. But design is not only about how things look. It's about the intersection between beauty, function, and communication. In other words, good design is about how to use structure, purpose, and human understanding to influence an audience's interaction with a product or communication.

There really isn't a very meaningful distinction between UX and UI design — except that it's possible to care more about one over the other. A user's experience is keenly affected by not only structure, logic, and human expectations, but by how the product looks and feels (UI and graphic design). From the user's point of view, they don't care about the differences between these disciplines. It either works, or it doesn't work.

However, accomplished designers care about both, because they know that each is essential for a proper design approach. Think about it. What good is fine UX when it looks bad? It's like reading a badly designed manual. It's great for finding information, but it can be hard to read. Also, what good is a great visual design, if it fails to communicate or function according to a user's expectations? Good design makes these concerns invisible for the user. It just works.

But, as I said before, UX is not just for interface or website design. It's for interior design, physical product design, marketing collateral, architectural design, fashion design, and on and on. We designers want the end users to have an appropriate reaction to what we design. We want them to have the intended experiences, so we get the intended results.

So, in essence, we all must employ some form of UX in everything we design.

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