User experience design is an extremely vast, multidisciplinary and fascinating field. It shapes the products and services we use on a daily basis, and can make or break the success of a business or brand.
A career in UX design is fast-paced and challenging, requiring a highly diverse skillset. If you want to break into this field, there’s plenty to learn!
User experience (UX) refers to any interaction a user has with a product or service. UX design considers each and every element that shapes this experience, how it makes the user feel, and how easy it is for the user to accomplish their desired tasks. This could be anything from how a physical product feels in your hand, to how straightforward the checkout process is when buying something online. The goal of UX design is to create easy, efficient, relevant and all-round pleasant experiences for the user.
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
— Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect
UX designers combine market research, product development, strategy and design to create seamless user experiences for products, services and processes. They build a bridge to the customer, helping the company to better understand — and fulfil — their needs and expectations.
The Difference Between UX And UI Design
When talking about UX, the term user interface (UI) design will inevitably crop up. However, it’s important to recognize that, despite often being used interchangeably, UX and UI are two different things.
“UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem; UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.”
— Ken Norton, Partner at Google Ventures, Ex-Product Manager at Google
User interface design is not the same as UX. UI refers to the actual interface of a product; the visual design of the screens a user navigates through when using a mobile app, or the buttons they click when browsing a website. UI design is concerned with all the visual and interactive elements of a product interface, covering everything from typography and color palettes to animations and navigational touch points (such as buttons and scrollbars). You can read more about the work of UI designers here.
UX and UI go hand-in-hand, and the design of the product interface has a huge impact on the overall user experience. Learn more about the difference between UX and UI design in this guide.
UX design is everywhere: the layout of a supermarket, the ergonomics of a vehicle, the usability of a mobile app. While the term “user experience” was first coined by Don Norman in the 90s, the concept of UX has been around for much longer.
To understand the principles of UX design, it helps to explore the history behind it.