The subtleties that define UX – beyond common sense modern design – have morphed into a body of knowledge far removed from the relatively simple practices of the past. Alongside Inbound Marketing’s super-accommodating approach to clients, UX has become far more than simply providing “the standard experience” for end users. Modern UX design is much more nuanced than ever before, accommodating diverse demographics across a host of devices and preferences.
Understanding the interplay between tech advancement and user uptake is a demanding practice, and one that falls squarely on UX designers’ shoulders. With the IT universe previously running on a given business model of tech-improvements-make-sales, today the user experience instructs tech much more rather than the other way around. In an era of extremely transient consumer loyalties, greater and faster connectivity (as well as shifting buying behaviours), UX design is under pressure to constantly perform as the welcome mat for future business success. It’s become the norm that previous assumptions about online consumers – and their handy classifications – aren’t cutting it anymore. There is still money to be made in social media, for example, it’s just become a lot harder to generate.
Just as Inbound Marketing has evolved in recognition of the crucial stage of incoming business, so too has UX evolved into a specialised and often outsourced practice. UX design is a challenging and dynamic arena, and demands a very broad understanding of online life, as well as niche skills. Engaging a reputable IT consultancy could help make the difference between rave reviews and stifled uptake.
Good business means good UX
Today’s UX professional is typically a T-shaped client liaison manager. That’s what UX needs to succeed at – carrying the time-hewn basics of good business into an online or mobile experience. Deft technical skills, a strong imaginative empathy and the construction of extensive feedback loops are all expected of those who operate in the UX realm.
We all know great service when we encounter it in a location-based store, be it through pleasant, smiling faces, genuine concern for your experience, immediately available facts and figures from staff – who’s approach also speaks of the company ethos, of caring and professionalism. Carrying that into the ether, a UX designer’s best tool is empathy: being able to walk in the end-user’s shoes. It informs design, eliminates user hassle, and ultimately conveys how this company feels about you. Lousy design makes for convoluted navigation, poor perceptions around the company, less satisfied clients and lower sales.
While good business conduct has been refined and defined ad nauseum for the old world, carrying that over into the online realm is a highly nuanced skill. Countries differ and there are always variances across the globe, but UX design today usually carries a premium salary and responsibility, and rightly so. A company is only in business once it’s made a sale. That point of contact in a connected world falls to UX designers. Inbound Marketing feeds a velvety funnel of feel-good for consumers, and it’s largely UX designers who lay down that red carpet.
Being able to imagine, empathise and pleasantly surprise modern end users when presenting an offer of goods or service is no small feat. Empathy for others’ pain points and desires is key to modern UX design. In a symbiotic loop, a UX designer draws from an astute understanding of users’ issues and personal wants to producing a highly malleable technical application thereof. Part shrink and part tech wizard, a UX designer’s role can incorporate just about any aspect of business. A massively broad understanding of life in general – alongside highly specific abilities to extrapolate that understanding in a positive and savvy manner – defines the modern UX designer.
A great UX designer will be able to toggle between the jargon of UX and the understanding of their clients. They must additionally draw on past industry experience to reapply past success. The modern UX designer knows when to accommodate mass trends and when to propose a better way of doing things. Very often, UX design demands a marriage of both, with designers both accommodating and yet refining – and thus, redefining – UX in any given moment. Extremely fluid, the UX arena is where good user perceptions are built, enabling further business downline.
UX for one… or one billion
The best UX designers aim at getting it right the first time around. Yet, they are wise enough to accept that greatness is often only achieved after an initial foray into the market. Once a site or sales channel is launched, the evaluation of initial presentation is measured. A great baseline initial presentation is an achievement unto itself, but the best UX out there also trades on constant sampling and improvement. It’s the stocktaking of online life. Many find it boring or even frustrating, as it almost implies that the work is never done. Gleaning diverse opinions on the UX built, however, is beyond essential. The constant monitoring, tweaking and incorporation of user input into UX is the down-line work essential to maintaining an edge.
A UX designer is both president-elect and a humble servant. A designer applies all their considerable knowledge and skills to build UX, but the best know they’ll need to be open to extensive feedback and adjustment based on user sentiment. They apply their knowledge and skills to better serve those who have no knowledge of their trade.
A professional UX designer does not take things personally. As with any creative process, UX design must listen to its critics in order to become the best. Savvy designers park their egos, apply their brains, and always look at the ultimate litmus test for design – sales. If tweaking UX makes for higher sales or happier end users, it’s the right thing to do. Sleek UX designers know it’s not necessarily about what they like, but what the public likes.
Sometimes taking the road less followed, UX designers need to contextualise their efforts in broad public expectations, while always seeking to tweak or otherwise improve the online experience for users.
Furthermore, a UX designer is potentially addressing billions of people across the globe. A bit of hit-and-miss has always been a part of online life, as you’re going to have to accept that you can’t please everyone all the time – especially when you’re potentially speaking to everyone! But as valid as emotional design is as a consideration, emotional responses seldom serve UX pros.
UX never dies, it should just get better
Just when you thought that having a global grasp, refined people skills, and dynamite technical ability was all a UX designer needed, there’s more. How many clients went west today because of persistent tiny issues with the UX – or even larger, more glaring ones? A dozen? A million? Far beyond the simple demographics of yore, connected business on the modern globe has such a vastly enhanced ability to reach – or alienate – millions of consumers.
First prize is rolling out great UX the first time around, it’s true. But those who most often win first prize are also those who back up their design with these skills too:
- Being able to speak to a variety of audiences, from technical contributors on a project to the marketing and sales team, seamlessly incorporating diverse language and focus into a comprehensive understanding of the business objectives.
- An ability to design and interpret beta testing, ongoing subsequent sampling or surveying. Part statistician and part emotional actuary, a UX designer will maintain great UX with constant feedback from users in order to hit the sweet spots identified.
- Crucially, a great UX pro will also know the difference between sentiment and facts, momentary spikes and longer term imperatives.
Maintaining an initially great user experience is for many designers the real work. The old adage of it being difficult to remain the market leader applies. Maintaining great UX might not be onerous, but it is essential. Consumers have the luxury of drifting in loyalties and preferences – UX designers don’t.
All told, UX design goes straight to the bottom line. Great UX designers will toggle the business imperatives, human sentiment and technical construction needed to build and maintain the fuzzy, feel-good funnel where profitable interaction happens.
Want to learn more?
Want to get an industry-recognized Course Certificate in UX Design, Design Thinking, UI Design, or another related design topic? Online UX courses from the Interaction Design Foundation can provide you with industry-relevant skills to advance your UX career. For example, Design Thinking, Become a UX Designer from Scratch, Conducting Usability Testing or User Research – Methods and Best Practices are some of the most popular courses. Good luck on your learning journey!