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User experience design.

In Web design op 30-11-2014

No matter how much has changed since websites were first developed, their success is dependent on just one thing. The perception of the users. ‘Does this website have value for me? Is it easy and pleasant to use?’ These questions are in the subconscious of every user who visits your site and forms the basis of their decision to become regular users or not.

Creative Design.

User Experience Design (UxD) is about creative design that gets people to answer yes to the questions above no matter what system they are interfacing with, whether an online application, a website or desktop software. User Experience Designers will study and evaluate what emotions are evoked by a particular system, taking into consideration their usability, perceived value, efficiency and more.

They also look deeper into the processes and sub-systems they offer, such as evaluating how users feel about the checkout process of a particular ecommerce site, is it simple and enjoyable or is it lengthy and complicated? Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher,  was the first to coin the phrase ‘user experience’ and was also the first to describe just how important it is to have a design which is centred on the needs and wants of the user.

Website interaction used to be built based on what web designers thought worked while the design was based on what they thought looked amazing and what their clients wanted to see. The design had no scientific value whatsoever and was instead focussed on the aesthetic and the development of the brand with little or no thought to how users would feel about the site.

The last decade has been witness to an almost complete transformation of the web. Not only has it become an almost universal tool with almost 2.5 billion global users in 2012 but websites have now become so complex, with multiple features that in order to be truly effective it is imperative that they have greater user experience designs.

There is now the added factor of the increasing number of ways to access the web. Mobile devices are used on a daily basis, there is a vast array of web browsers available and even internet connection vary. The universal accessibility of a website has also become far more important than it used to be. Not only do the needs of those with special requirements such as screen readers and non-standard input devices need to be addressed but also those using older mobile connections or who do not have broadband connections.

The more complex the system, the more necessary it is to have a fully functional UX design. For ecommerce websites, online applications that offer a lot of interaction and websites that are multi-faceted will involve far more planning and architecture than what a simple static website would need.

UxD is not a one size fits all solution, instead it one that is custom tailored to fit both the product or service and the target audience. Every human being is different from each other so what works for one may not come close to satisfying another, the best that one can do is to develop a design based on the norm rather than the exception.

User experience and usability are NOT the same thing although they have become synonymous. Usability forms part of the user experience and focuses on the user-friendliness and efficiency of a website, where the user experience deals with the ‘emotions’ behind the coding, how a user feels about using the site. The human factors such as science, psychology, information architecture and user-centered design principles also play major roles in the decisions of user experience designers.

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