UX Design is Not Just a Web Design Thing

UX Design is constantly evolving and is not limited to the web

For the past few years, UX Design (user experience design) has been all anyone has been buzzing about. As a result, many designers to decide that this is something they should focus on to get a job in the design industry.

An emphasis on responsive design for web and mobile devices has influenced this, and it seems like UX is trendy or a buzzword at the moment.

But user experience is not just something limited to website design, or design itself for that matter. When we use any product or service, we think about the overall experience in everything from the order process, to using something for the first time.

Apple products are a prime example, the experience from the moment you open the well-designed packaging, to powering on a device for the first time, was all well thought-out and with the intention of creating a great experience that you will remember.

That is what makes it so difficult for Apple users to imagine using another product. Even if the other product performs better on paper, the user experience that Apple has created, from the way they design their stores to the way they approach product design and ease of use, makes it hard to compete with them. User experience design is part of developing a brand.

Packaging Design and User Experience

Have you ever tried to open a plastic package and end up hurting yourself, or just getting frustrated, or even damaging the product trying to open it?

That is an example of poor user experience design. Someone was more concerned with making cheap, theft-proof packaging, more than thinking about you, the customer.

When buying high-quality electronic products from companies like Samsung, Dell, Wacom, or Apple, I tend to notice the care they put behind the packing. Not just in the visual design aspects, but in the experience I have every step of the way until I’ve got the product resting in my hands.

Even making the instruction manuals simple and not feeling overwhelming or too thick and bulky is part of intent and empathy for the end user.

The Little Things Tend To Matter

User experience design can mean focusing on something that seems small, like where to place the navigation on a website. In the early ’90s, most websites had the navigation placed on the left side of the page, because logic dictated that since we read left to right, it made sense. However in the late ’90s to early 2000’s we saw a new trend emerge of placing navigation on the right.

Because we read left to right in the English speaking world, it also means we prioritize left to right. Some clever people realized that the text or images were the priority and not the navigation elements, those were a functionality, a secondary priority when interacting with or consuming content. They also realized that this reduced the physical effort of moving a mouse and felt more natural.

You’ll notice on the CreativePro website that this article is on the left, with additional navigation and secondary items placed on the right. This is probably true for many online publications you engage with.

Yes, UX Design Plays a Role in Print

Packaging design may have seemed a bit obvious, but user experience plays a role in print too. In fact the role it plays in print should be even more obvious to designers. Consider OOH (out-of-home advertising), we only glance a billboard for a few seconds. A designer has to know how to make the most of the few seconds we will pay attention to a billboard while passing by at 30-60 mph.

This means that the typography has to be readable at a distance, and the message has to be concise enough to let the primary concept and image come across. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds, and there are a lot of examples of it falling short.

UX Design is More Important Than Ever

With mobile applications and more interactive websites leveraging features like parallax backgrounds, video, and animation, UX Design is a skillset that is growing in demand and is being applied in diverse ways. It is not the niche field that some are expecting, and we have already explored the reasons why it is not the exclusive domain of web designers and web developers.

Designers primarily work in alignment with marketing or product development, and companies are prioritizing an integrated, consistent experience for their customers. As print, web, video and mobile all become part of the ecosystem companies present to consumers, the need to make these different media experience work well together, will require the type of designers that can see the big picture.

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Posted on: April 1, 2016

Roberto Blake

Roberto Blake is a Graphic Designer helping Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses improve their branding and presentations. Roberto also teaches Graphic Design and Adobe Tutorials through his YouTube channel and community. Roberto's Photoshop artwork has been featured in publications such as Advanced Photoshop and Photoshop Creative Magazine. See robertoblake.com

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