What does a UX designer do? People often ask my parents that question right after they ask, “How is your son?”. My parents answer is usually “I’m not sure. Something with computers.”. Thanks for trying mom and dad!
But seriously how do you describe what a UX designer does? Well they design the user interface right? Well what does that mean? What is a User Interface really?
OK So I will try and not write a post that is just rhetorical questions. What I like to emphasize when explaining what I do is to focus on the “experience” part of the name User Experience. Us designers care about what the user does an dhow the interface makes them feel. It seems simple on some terms to just say that the UX should be easy and fast. But that doesn’t cut it. Just getting your job done fast does not make for a good experience all of the time. Take air-travel for example. Flying on a plane in coach is a vastly different experience than is flying First Class. It’s the same plane and you get to your destination at the same time but I think we all agree that one is a preferred way to travel. Now I’m not going to through out a bunch of cliche’s like “first class user experience” but my mission in life is to design products that create… well… a first class user experience.
It’s not enough to just get the the user to accomplish their tasks but to do it and actually enjoy it is the million dollar problem to solve. IT guys are often not in the best of moods when the log into the application or system. They are usually trying to find some problem that some dumbass employee caused. A good user experience can help that IT guy to accomplish his task at fixing said dumbass’s mistake as well as make him feel good about doing it.
Now for the mushy part…. feelings. Let’s talk about our feelings. Feelings are actually very powerful. Humans are feeling driven. We eat because we feel hungry. We smile because we feel happy. We cry because we feel sad. As a user experience designer, we try and get user to feel happy about their experience using the interface. How many travelers step off the plane smiling that are from first class as opposed to coach. Smile, I am still using that analogy! The design can illicit these feelings if done properly. The design drives the feelings in the user. That’s what us user experience designers do.
So, yes we design what the interface looks like (mom and dad I can explain what an interface is later) as well as design the entire experience each user has with the interface.