How We Accidentally Became UX Designers
User Experience Is Always Top of Mind
Everyone in our creative studio has been working on websites since the beginning of their careers. Each one of us for different reasons, either as the main output of our working life or as a means to an end to achieve some other goal. We all fundamentally understand that when you are building a website, the aesthetic value of the website is important, but second to usability. Who the website is for, and how they will use it, are the most important factors to consider in a web design project, and the ease of its usability the most important key performance indicator.
Yet, no one in our studio has ever taken a dedicated user experience (UX) design course. We may never take one, to be honest. That’s because we understand that usability is the result of good design and intentional efforts to make a website meet the needs of its intended audience. We know that UX is not only good design but also good business. It’s a discipline that’s at the heart of all of our decisions.
Web Design Without UX Is Just Moving Blocks
Creating a usable website is the result of adhering to a number of design principles that are informed by user behavior and human psychology. When a web designer has UX in mind, everything is intentional. Color, spacing, shapes, typography, and media can all help guide a user through an experience, make content easy to skim and help move users through an interaction. This includes being intentional about how the overall site is organized, and links are created to move users from page to page.
At the heart of UX is a consideration for the user’s journey. We start out by asking the following questions: How is the user going to reach the website? What do they need to know to be oriented toward the experience of being on the site? What will help them trust the website? What do they need to do while they’re there?
Web designers who aren’t asking these questions and doing something about their answers are just moving blocks of content around to create a product to sell to you. In an age where it’s easy to templatize design, that means they’re probably just filling in someone else’s design with your content and pushing it back to you. That’s not design, that’s data entry.
Fields, Disciplines, and Technologies Change
It’s the democratization of design and the widespread proliferation of templates and wizards that pushed us out of the “I build websites” category and into “We do UX.” For some, it might seem like a shift in terminology that doesn’t matter to our clients, but it matters to us. We want it to be known that design with intention, we have a strategy, and we are building what we believe to be the best websites for your audience.