In this article, “What I have learned at the UX Design Institute Course,” I aim to share a comprehensive overview of my experience with the UX Design Institute’s online course. I will cover my detailed notes from video lessons, insights from course materials, and the outcomes of module projects. It is worth mentioning that I successfully completed the course and obtained a professional diploma in UX design. I hope this article serves as a valuable resource and offers insights into the UX Design Institute’s program.
Index: What I have learned at the UX Design Institute Course?
Module 1: Introduction to “What is User Experience Design?”
Technical explanation of User Experience: User experience includes all the user’s emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors, and accomplishments that occur before, during, and after use.
More precise: User experience is what it feels like to use a product, system or service.
So, what is UX?
UX is a problem solving discipline. The goal is to achieve the best possible experience for the user, that will result in higher engagement and better conversion rates. UX design is the process of improving the usability of a website or an app.
UX designers are responsible for making sure that the product they are designing is usable by their target user group. They also provide solutions to design problems or glitches in order to make sure that users can accomplish their goals with efficiency and satisfaction. Even if this means ignoring desired functions of stakeholders (support, operations, tech, marketing, brand, sales, etc.) to protect the integrity of the product. This sometimes leads to the reduction of functionality to what is most important/necessary for the user.
“Great products solve user problems and generate positive emotions.”
Why does user experience matter?
User experience (UX) is the quality of all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products.
UX has a profound impact on a business, as it can make or break a brand. It is therefore essential to design a UX that addresses user needs and is aligned with organisational objectives.
A successful UX also results in more engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction. This ensures higher customer lifetime value over cheaper alternatives resulting in increased revenue for both the organisation as well as users.
Great products are more than just good looking. They are designed for function, appearance, and experiences. The designer must think of the user’s point-of-view and how the product will be used to make sure all three are taken into account.
So, great products need three parts of design:
- functional design (such as the engine of a car)
- aesthetic design (the look) and
- experience design (how it feels to use a product).
It is important to know, that negative emotions, on the other hand, have a multiplier effect. One negative experience can outweigh many positive once.
UX is a state of mind
User experience design is a state of mind. It’s not about the money, it’s about the tiny details that make all the difference. The details that will stay in your memory when you’re experiencing something and thinking back on it with a smile on your face. That is what creates that Knock out experience!
So, it’s about user happiness.
UXD Product desirability (Making a Business Case)
Desirability relates to emotional connections a product has with a customer. A successful product should have the three qualities:
- Viability is how practical it is for the customers to purchase or use (often in terms of money making)
- Feasibility is technological practicability of a product
- Desirability is whether or not people want to use your product more than your competitors’ products. (Maybe the most important in my opinion)
The key questions in the context of desirability are:
- Is there a problem?
- Is our product solving it? (Problem solved in a functional way)
- Is the experience great? (Solved in a way that’s simple and fun)
UX is a process
UX design is a process, not a static artifact. It’s never finished and continues to evolve with the people who use it.
The UX design process is designed to be iterative, which means that it starts with research and then moves on to define, prototype, validate and build. Research provides insights into the needs of the user, while defining identifies what users want from the product. The goal behind designing prototypes is to present different views of how an idea might work in reality or on paper. Validating prototypes ensures that these designs are effective for users before implementing them in the final version of the product.
Testing prototypes (also known as “usability testing”) usually involves giving participants tasks to complete while they interact with a prototype in order to evaluate whether or not their needs are.
The benefits of a quality design process are easily seen by those who have a clear vision for what they want to achieve. They can see the end product in high-fidelity, and know that the process they choose will lead them through a natural structure that is easy to iterate without much investment. The three success factors (desirability, viability, feasibility) are given equal importance because it’s important to be realistic yet optimistic about one.
If it’s necessary to speed up the Waterfall project management process, you can use agile as a method of choice. Agile shortens the iterations for “research to test” in the process by creating smaller portions of work. As an UX Designer you have to focus on smaller problems piece by piece.
Danger of features: New Features are not always a good thing
Products are not about features. Products is about to solve Problems. If you think about it, if you have too many features in your app or website, people may be confused about what to do next or even how to use it.
- More Features in product means it is less intuitive. Features add complexity.
- New Features involve a trade-off to other features
- Just because you can add a new feature, doesn’t mean you should. Is it worth it? Will users really need it or use it?
- Features add cost because Features must be designed (do not just add it)
Just adding features is like pouring out all the ingredients of a cake on the table and saying it’s a cake. No, it’s not. It’s a mess.
Ask these questions
- Does anybody need it? (Ask real customers)
- What is the trade-off?
- What complexity do we add and what does that mean to other/the core features?
- What is the cost to design it well?
Only if a product solves a real-life problem will it be successful and needed. Just think about the Google Plus Network: There was already a solution that works fine called Facebook. There is no need to use Google Plus, although it has a more beautiful interface and more features.
Taking shortcuts in Research and Design
We cannot take shortcuts in the UX Design. Software projects can fail because of skipping Research and Design. So we should not be afraid of taking time during this process to make sure that we are not cutting corners and make it easier for our users to use our product.
In the Book The Definitive Guide to Project Management Sebastian Nokes and Alan Greenwood said: ”…the design face and the build face are synonymous.“
Just imagine if the Empire State Building was designed and built at the same time … In architecture, no one would think of not thinking about what to build beforehand. This would lead to chaos.
As UX Design you have to separate Main Use Cases (The variations a software, for example a Mail Application, will be used by a user) from Edge Use Cases.
Talking about features it helps if you categorize them in three parts:
- TOP priorities: Things that most people do, most often. (Main Use Case)
- SECOND priorities: Things that some people do, somewhat often. (Stil on the interface but not as prominent)
- Edge Cases: Things that few people do, infrequently (Hard to find on the interface)
Paradox of specificity
The paradox of specificity is a term coined by Donald Norman to identify an issue with user interfaces. The author identifies the problem as: “the more specific you make a user interface, the less accessible it becomes.” (Norman, 1992) Norman created this term based on his understanding that users want simple interfaces that are easy to utilize and understand, while designers want to create complex interfaces that can cater for all needs and uses. This conflict between designers and users is often called the paradox of specificity because it’s such an unfamiliar topic in UX research (Norman, 1992).
The Paradox of Specificity, simply put, tells us that adapting our efforts to the needs of a more specific audience creates solutions that are useful to a much broader set of needs. For example, rather than trying to meet the needs of all your users, look at how to help a very specific user, or a set of users with the most specific needs. According to the Paradox of Specificity, chances are you’ll end up with a product or solution that meets the needs of a much bigger audience.
Rolling bags were originally designed for pilots and stewardesses (professionals with lots of short trips) before becoming popular with business men and short-trip flyers (ryan air) because there were handy and good looking.
Benefits if you focus of small number of key “USE CASES”:
- It is easier to design for a smaller number. Less work involved.
- You design a better product because it is a more specific product. This leads to that the other, less important, secondary use cases get accommodated too.
Mental models vs Design models
User experience (UX) design is all about anticipating how users think a product or service works. Mental models are the ideas the user has about how something works, and they can be very different from what actually happens. When designing for UX, it’s important to take into account current mental models for your target audience to make sure you’re designing something that’s intuitive and easy to use.
- A Mental models is about “How a User thinks a product works”
- A Design models is about “How the product actually works”
The difference between the two models will result in your users will have trouble using your product. So always remember, if those models don’t match, nothing else about your product really matters. (even the greatest features don’t matter) To cover that, do Usability Testing.
Thats it for now. The first module of the UX Design Institute Course. I hope you like it.
Course Material and Example Projects
Here is my professional diploma in ux design from the UX Design Institute Glasgow Caledonian University and some project and course material.
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