In this four minute interview with Aarron Walter, UX Lead at MailChimp.com we discuss the role and responsibilities and Web professional job opportunities for UX Designers.
Supported by practicing Web professionals, the resource guide WebProfessional.jobs career guide is designed to help students interested in learning more about exciting career opportunities in the Web design, Web development and the Web business industry.
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About UX Design
According to Wikipedia, User Experience Design (UXD) is a broad term used to explain all aspects of a person’s experience with the system including the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual. It is also referring to the application of user-centered design practices to generate cohesive, predictive and desirable designs based on holistic consideration of users’ experience. In most cases, User experience design fully encompasses traditional Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) design and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.
The field of User Experience Design has roots in human factors and ergonomics, a field that since the late 1940s has been focusing on the interaction between human users, machines and the contextual environments to design systems that address the user’s experience. The term specifically “User Experience” came in to existence in early 90’s with the proliferation of computers at work places. It was Donald Norman, User Experience Architect, who coined and bought this term to wider knowledge. The term also has a more recent connection to user-centered design, Human-Computer Interaction, and principles and also incorporates elements from similar user-centered design fields.
Elements of User Experience Design
The term user experience design was vastly proliferated after the commencement of the information age, hence many generalizations of the components are based on the building blocks of user experience design of digital systems. User experience design is majorly defined on broader topics that include talk of user’s emotions, the appeal of a UI and visual design.
Visual design also commonly known as graphic design, communication design or visual communication, represents the aesthetics or “look-and-feel” of the front end of any User Interface. Graphic treatment of interface elements, such as the “look” in the term look-and-feel is often perceived as the visual design. The purpose of visual design is to use visual elements like colors, images, typography and symbols to convey a message to its audience. Fundamentals of Gestalt psychology and Visual Perception give cognitive perspective on how to create effective visual communication.
 Information Architecture
Information architecture is the art and science of structuring and organizing the information in products and services, supporting usability and findability. More basic concepts that are attached with information architecture are described below.
In context to information architecture, Information is separate from knowledge and data, but lies indefinitely in the middle. It is information of all shapes and sizes: Websites, documents, software applications, images, and more. It is also concerned with metadata: terms used to describe and represent content objects such as documents, people, process, and organizations.
Structuring, Organization and Labeling
Structuring is reducing information to its basic building unit and then relating to each other. Organization involves grouping these units into distinctive and meaningful manner. Labelling is using appropriate wordings to support easy navigation and findability.
Finding and Managing
Findability is the most critical success factor for Information architecture. If users are not able to find required information without browsing, searching or asking then the findability of the architecture fails. Navigation needs to be a clearly conveyed to ease finding of the content.
As with the fields mentioned above, user experience design is a highly multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science. Depending on the purpose of the product, UX may also involve content design disciplines such as communication design, instructional design, or game design. The subject matter of the content may also warrant collaboration with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on planning the UX from various backgrounds in business, government, or private groups. More recently, content strategy has come to represent a sub-field of UX.
User experience design incorporates most or all of the above disciplines to positively impact the overall experience a person has with a particular interactive system, and its provider. User experience design most frequently defines a sequence of interactions between a user (individual person) and a system, virtual or physical, designed to meet or support user needs and goals, primarily, while also satisfying systems requirements and organizational objectives.
Typical outputs include:
Site Audit (usability study of existing assets)
Flows and Navigation Maps
User stories or Scenarios
Persona (Fictitious users to act out the scenarios)
Site Maps and Content Inventory
Wireframes (screen blueprints or storyboards)
Prototypes (For interactive or in-the-mind simulation)
Written specifications (describing the behavior or design)
Graphic mockups (Precise visual of the expected end result)
User experience design is integrated into software development and other forms of application development to inform feature requirements and interaction plans based upon the user’s goals. New introduction of software must keep in mind the dynamic pace of technology advancement and the need for change. The benefits associated with integration of these design principles include:
Avoiding unnecessary product features
Simplifying design documentation and customer-facing technical publications
Improving the usability of the system and therefore its acceptance by customers
Expediting design and development through detailed and properly conceived guidelines
Incorporating business and marketing goals while catering to the user
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