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7.5 Fundamentals of UX Design

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Well, if you're reading this you're either:

  • Totally new to UX, possibly having hidden under a tech-free rock for a while
  • you have a vague idea about what it is and you'd like to know more
  • or you're an AI chatbot that's scraping this article for some knowledge to feed the ever-growing beast of AI, which will one day devour our souls and turn us into the Matrix.

Umm, where was I?

Oh right yeah, what is UX?

Well buckle up, because we're about to take a joyride through the fringes of conventional Design.

UX, for those of you who haven't been initiated into the cult yet, stands for User Experience. It's like the secret handshake of the digital world, but instead of shaking hands, you're shaking up how people feel about your website or app. Ideally, you're using thousands of years of proven psychology and research to tap into peoples' unconscious minds, and make a product or service they love to use.

Some terminology and tips of the trade

UX Tip #1: The UX Designer is a Unicorn:

Imagine UX Designers as magical unicorns, riding rainbow-coloured keyboards, and wielding pixelated wands. Except, slightly more grounded in reality and not really like a unicorn. At all. The pixelated wand is accurate, though.

UX Designers are entirely based in reality, as we're dedicated to finding out as much about the users as possible. There's no point designing something for your boss, your cat or your favourite pair of shoes. UX Designers need to fully understand the people using the product, as they're the ones we care most about!

We don't just design what you see, the website or the apps; we craft experiences (it's all about the User Experience). That's where the unicorn metaphor comes back into it, because if crafting experiences doesn't sound magical, I don't know what does.

UX Tip #2: It's Not About You; It's About Them

The first rule of UX Design Club is: You do not talk about yourself. Seriously. It's all about the user. You need to put yourself in their shoes, but hopefully, they're not smelly shoes. Understand what they want, what makes them tick, and what drives them up the digital wall. Then, design an experience that's as smooth as a peanut butter. The smooth kind. Not crunchy. If you've got a crunchy user experience, you're doing something wrong.

UX Tip #3: Wireframes Are Not Fences for Digital Cows

One of the basics in UX Design is creating wireframes. No, we're not talking about building fences out of actual wire, here. A wireframe is like a blueprint for your website or app. It's a rough sketch, using pencil and paper. Or if you're entirely digital, it's grey boxes on a screen, which show where elements will go in the more polished (high-fidelity) designs.

But be careful not to get too invested in them. Literally just draw boxes with a few words inside describing what's meant to go in the box. Don't design further. Think of a wireframe as the IKEA instructions for your digital masterpiece, but instead of Swedish we speak Lorem Ipsum.

UX Tip #4: The User Journey is Not a Solo Adventure

Now, let's talk about the user journey. This is not a solo adventure; it's a group trip, and you're their guide. You're also their architect, their event planner and their waiter. Users should be guided through your website or app like they're on a rollercoaster, that's also as seamless and easy to use as driving an electric, self-driving car.

Make it easy for them to find what they need, and they'll love you for it. Make it a maze of confusion, and they'll ghost you faster than a Tinder date gone wrong.

UX Tip #5: Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

What's the best way to make sure your design works? Testing! No, not the kind where you see how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth (my record is 23). No, by testing I mean usability testing. Putting your low-fidelity wireframes (that we spoke about earlier) in front of users and getting some real feedback, before you get too invested in the design.

Keep them at the wireframe stage, don't get too attached, and TEST them. Get real people (ideally you'll know who the users are, see the rule #2 above!) to try out your creation and see if it's as user-friendly as a puppy in a ball pit. If it's just balls, you can go back to the drawing board without too much pain and wasted effort. Then test and test again until you reach usability nirvana!

UX Tip #6: Mobile Matters.

In today's world, mobile is king. Your design needs to work on all sorts of devices, from the big screen to the teeny-tiny smartphone. Or more realistically these days, to the gigantic phablets (phone tablets) we try to stuff into our pockets. If your design only works on desktop, you're going to miss out on a whole lot of potential users. More importantly, if people open your website on a mobile and it looks dreadful, you'll suffer a huuuuuggge reputation hit!

UX Tip #7: Keep It Simple, Stupid! A.k.a The Art of Simplicity

Now, let's discuss simplicity. Your design should be as clear and straightforward as ordering a burger. Nobody wants to navigate a labyrinth of buttons and menus just to buy a ticket or find that 'hilarious' cat video. Take lessons from the world around you, and if you find something complex that you struggle with (for me it's push/pull doors), take note. Think about why it's unnecessarily complicated, and how you'd improve the user experience if YOU were in charge!

And remember, LESS IS MORE. Keep it stupidly simple!

Bonus UX Tip #7.5 Why So Serious? Make It Fun!

Last but not least, let's not forget the fun factor. If your design can make someone smile, you're crafting a great user experience. Think about what makes you smile when you're using anything digital, and inject a 'moment of joy' into your design. These are the things you don't need, but that you've added because it's a nice touch. But remember: Before trying to make someone smile, you have to nail the basics. Make sure they can use your designs properly first, and THEN you can knock their socks off!

It's not all about checkboxes and dropdown menus; it's about creating an experience that leaves users happier than a kid in a candy store. It's what I do for a living, so reach out if you'd like to know how.

So, there you have it, folks!

UX Design is the magical world of making digital experiences better, one click at a time. Just remember, it's not about you; it's about them – the users. Keep it simple, keep it fun, and you'll be the UX Design superhero you were born to be. Now go forth and create, my fellow digital wizards!