Becoming a User Experience Expert

A user experience expert is a very important person considering that websites and web applications have become progressively more complex as the methodologies and technologies of our industry advance. It is important to note that what used to a one way static medium has significantly evolved into a very wealthy and interactive experience. However, the success of a website still hinges on how users perceive it regardless of the changes that have occurred in the production process. Some of the questions that run through visitors’ mind as he or she interacts with the product on the website include but not limited on whether the website gives him value, how easy it is to use the website and if it is pleasant to use it.

The Elements of User Experience Design

This kind of design is made up of various elements. For instance, there is the information architecture which refers to the art and science of organizing and structuring information in services and products hence supporting find-ability and usability. There is also the visual design. It is also known as communication design, visual communication or graphic design and represents the look and feel of the front end of any user interface. Other important elements include information, finding and managing, usability, accessibility, interaction design, human computer interaction and structuring, labeling and organizing.

Human computer interaction is mainly concerned with the evaluation, implementation and design of interactive computing systems for the use by humans. This is actually the major contributor to user experience design due to its emphasis on performance of humans rather than just usability. Structuring entails decreasing the information to its basic building units, and then having them related. On the other hand, organization entails putting these units into groups in a manner that is distinctive and meaningful, while labeling simply means the use of appropriate wording in order to support find ability and navigation.

Usability refers to extend by which the specified users can use a product to achieve specified goals with efficiency, satisfaction and effectiveness in a specified context of use. It is attached with all the tools which are used by humans and is extended to both non digital and digital devices.

Tasks and Techniques of User Experience Specialists

User experience experts perform numerous tasks at various points in the process. some of the important things they deliver include; evaluation of current system whereby in a system is already in existence, a user experience expert will evaluate its current state and will have the issues reported and give best suggestion basing on their analysis of research data and information.

User experience experts also perform A/B testing. The specialist might devise a study aimed at comparing the quality and effectiveness of different user interfaces experience. User experience professionals also do user surveys in the sense that the experts could interview potential and existing system uses in order to gain insight into what would actually be most effective and excellent design. Due to the fact that the experience of the user is subject, studying and interacting with users is the best way of obtaining information directly. User experience specialists might also develop wire frames of various different layouts as well as higher fidelity protypes basing on their findings. There is also the use of storytelling technique whereby the user experience specialists tell stories and teach relevant and crucial information

Benefits of User Experience Design

It is important to note that the design of user experience is mainly integrated into software development and other application development forms to inform feature needs and interaction plan basing upon the goals of the user. Each and every software that is introduced must always keep pace with the rapid advancements in technology. There are various benefits that are associated with integration of these design principles and include but not limited to avoiding unnecessary product characteristics, improving the system usability and thus its acceptance by clients, incorporating marketing and business goals while protecting the freedom of choice of the user, expediting development and design though properly conceived and detailed guidelines and simplifying customer centric technical publications and documentation.

Criticisms of User Experience as a Profession

It is worth noting that not everyone sees the value of user experience designer on the team. The arguments against hiring the user experience specialists mainly revolve around the perceived associated fear of change, redundancy in skill set and costs. There are some people in website building industry who believe that user experience specialists are too far removed from the actual process of building a website. It is also believed that user experience professionals adds expense since it costs money to hire the person unless he or she is willing to work for free. However, a counter argument says that we should look at user experience design as an investment.

Even though the benefits of user experience are not readily apparent like those of other parts of application or website, one may get higher return in sometime later. A simple improvement in user experience design of a checkout process is likely to raise revenue by a lot of money. Another criticism of user experience specialists is that the results of their job are not directly measurable. It is very difficult to evaluate the return on investment and effectiveness of a user experience design using quantitative measures. This is due to the fact that the field is subjective. User experience deals with the emotions of users hence you cannot put a number on it as it is the case with loading speed, conversions or page views. It would actually be inconclusive to say that any positives effects are the outcome of a better user experience or some other factors like improved front end performance optimization or marketing.

Basically, it is important to keep in mind that user experience cannot be designed or manufactured. However, the design must integrate it. Good understanding of the emotional quotient of the user plays a very crucial role in user experience design process. Determining the reason a visitor will be using the application in question is the first step while designing the user experience. Thereafter, the user experience expert can design it accordingly, by using the proper User experience guidelines.

User experience guidelines text photo

Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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