You might have heard of the term User Experience or UX design. But what does it mean exactly?

In this article, I will explain what UX design is and talk about how to become a UX designer.

What is UX design?

The term User Experience refers to how users interact with a product or service. Whenever you login into a website, or play a game on your phone, your interaction with that application is considered user experience.

UX Design goes beyond digital applications. User Experience is relevant for any product or service that a user interacts with.

Other examples would include assembly guides for putting together furniture or a dining experience at a restaurant.

If you find a product to be easy to use and understand, then that would be considered a positive user experience. But if the product is confusing and frustrating then that would be considered a negative user experience.

Professional UX designers put a lot of thought into how a user interacts with a product to ensure that they have a positive experience. Negative experiences can lead to loss of revenue for a company if the user decides, based on their experience, to no longer use the product or service.

History of UX design

The term User Experience Design was first introduced in the early 1990's by Donald Arthur Norman. In 1993, Donald was working as a User Interface Architect for Apple when he decided to change his title to User Experience Architect.

This is what Donald had to say about inventing the term User Experience:

“I invented the term because I thought Human Interface and usability were too narrow: I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

Donald is considered a leader and educator for User Experience Design. He is also an accomplished author with his best selling book The Design of Everyday Things.

Even though the term User Experience Design wasn't introduced until the early 90's, examples of UX design date back further than that.

Many people regard Walt Disney as one of the first UX designers because of his parks and resorts.

In the 1950's, Walt Disney wanted to create an amusement park that was fun for both adults and children. During those times, amusements parks were seen as dirty and seedy places that weren't appropriate for children.

But Disney wanted to change all of that and provide park goers with a positive experience. A lot of care went into the construction of the park by the designers and engineers ("Disney Imagineers").

One example of strong UX design at the parks is the number of options that attendees can choose from. The parks were designed to appeal to all types of guests.

Whether you are a teenager looking for thrill rides or a young family looking to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant or the tea cups – there is something for everyone.

Examples of bad UX design

Anything that is considered overly complicated, confusing, and hard to navigate would be bad UX design.

One example of bad UX in websites would be broken or invalid links.

I have created an example with dummy text and links that don't go anywhere.

If this were a real website, the user experience would be pretty poor because a lot of time is wasted clicking on links that do not work. This can be frustrating because users need to access that information but it is not available.

Another example of poor user experience is constant pop up ads and messages. These types of sites make it difficult to enjoy the content because you are constantly being interrupted with popups.

In this example, I have created a fake blog site where three different pop up messages urge you to subscribe.

This is clearly annoying to the user because they can't even read the blog post and now want to leave the page.

What does a UX designer do?

UX designers will test and research to make sure that products and services create a positive user experience. When designing a new product or service, the first step is to conduct user research to better understand the audience.

During this first phase, UX designers need to understand what the user is hoping to get out of the product and identify possible challenges the user might face with the product or service.

The next phase is to create a User Persona which serves as an example persona of a customer using the product or service. This type of tool helps UX designers identify what a user is looking for from the product and produce a positive experience.

The next phase is to think about the structure and layout of the product so the user can easily find the information they are looking for. UX designers will start to focus on the user flow which is the complete process a user goes through while interacting with the product.

The last step is to create a prototype and perform user testing. UX designers will study the results from those tests and make the necessary modifications to the product.

Where to learn UX design?

There are plenty of free high quality courses you can take online to start learning about UX design.

I would suggest going through the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. Each of the seven classes are free to audit.

You can also read this article and watch the associated YouTube course for a good introduction to UX and UI Design.

Salary for UX designers

There are many different job titles for User Experience.

Here are some common job titles:

  • User Experience Architect
  • User Experience Researcher
  • User Experience Designer

It is important to note that salaries will differ depending on your location. You can use sites like Indeed or Glassdoor to research salaries.  

These are some example salaries for UX designers based in the United States. This data is being pulled from Salary.com.

I hope you enjoyed this article and best of luck on your UX journey.