Sometimes I find that there are multiple ways to describe my job position: user interface designer, user experience designer, and graphic designer can all adequately describe the roles I fill at Rural Sourcing, but what do I actually do? A large part of what I do is help clients discover the best way to visually display and interact with their product. Often I am labeled as the person who just “makes it look pretty.” User experience (UX) is much more than just making something “look pretty.” UX is about making interactions simple and visually providing users with the best solution they will easily understand. Another thing to remember is that it’s not always just about the user; the overall experience should meet as many goals and requirements as possible for both the business and the user. A similar understanding of the role of the UX designer can help businesses, designers, and developers provide the best service to clients.
Developing and designing around a great user experience can be a problem. The best way to achieve a great user experience is through collaboration of everyone on a team. If designers want their designs to be built, they need to be involved through the whole process – especially when issues arise and when the scope changes during development. It’s easier to understand the end of the story if we’re there to hear the beginning, right? Involving designers early, when products are still in the development stage, helps paint a clear picture of what the end product is intended to be. Developers can work out design issues by interacting with designers and collaborating on clear documentation. As quality assurance (QA) testers verify that a project has met its technical requirements, designers can also utilize them through identification of issues with front-end design implementation. The entire project team can benefit from collaboration between designers, developers, and testers. Early team collaboration can help eliminate time wasted on tedious corrections and edits.
Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, one of the world’s largest usability research firm, says that the most common flaw he has found is that companies think “good experience design is an add-on, not a base requirement.” There are always unanswered UX questions that arise, and utilizing a UX designer early can save time on ramp-up and rework for any project. For example, a small change to a design that supports reuse of components can help make development faster, which in turn frees up time for work on more complex areas. Everyone sets out to achieve the best product they can; success can be attained through collaboration between the entire team, early involvement of UX designers, and a cohesive understanding of what UX can bring to a project; so how do you engage your UX designer(s)?