The 9 Basic Tenets of UX Design

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UX or user experience design has been a hot word in the digital world for some time now.

You see it listed on pretty much every job posting that has anything to do with frontend or backend web design and many prospective employees are happy to stick it on their resume under ‘Skills’ even if they don’t have a 100% clear idea of what it entails.

Well let me tell you now – if you haven’t got your head around UX now, and don’t plan on doing so in the near future you are going to become less and less relevant to the web design industry.

It is no longer good enough to be an excellent visual designer and then pass your work onto a developer to translate your photoshop document into an interactive web page. If the projects you work on are going to succeed, from the very first stages you have to be considering the user experience and everything you incorporate must consider that in some form.

So how do you achieve this?

Below are the 9 basic tenets of UX design. Each one is intended to clarify some aspect of the overall experience by advising what you need, what something should say or do, and where it should appear in the overall workflow according to user expectations.

User experience belongs to the user

Remember that users are the ones who create the actual experience. What designers do is put together the artifacts and framework for it. You can’t engineer an experience the same way you design a physical object like a car or microwave, but you can influence it. When you do so strategically, great user experiences will be the natural outcome.

UX involves everything

User experience today involves more than just the product. There are multiple touch-points, such as design, customer service and support, and what people are saying about the experience to their friends. While no designer can directly control all of these, you can facilitate it by understanding what a user would expect and then delivering it.

Control and experience go hand in hand

When people use any kind of product, the last thing they want to feel is that they are no longer in the driver’s seat. If they want to advance to the next level or even stop for awhile, they should always be able to do so. A few pleasant surprises are fine, but no aspect of the experience should ever make the user feel that they have no more control over it.

UX does not exist in a vacuum

In the beginning, user experiences were pretty solitary, unless we sent an email or instant message and got a response. Now entire social lives are involved. UX designers need to account for a user’s private and public lives when planning frameworks.

Great UX is invisible

When users have enjoying an experience, they rarely if ever notice the hard work behind it. That’s when you know that you’ve accomplished your mission as a UX designer. People should be talking about their fantastic experience, not your equally stellar skills.

Great UX is intuitive and familiar

Practically all aspects of a UX design process requires you to understand how users think  and what they want. As humans, we look for patterns, value consistency, and want things to be as simple as possible to use. When you successfully leverage all three in your design, you’re a credit to the profession.

UX is a conversation

Like marketing, UX is a conversation with users. The aim of design is to help them do what they want to do. In this respect, it becomes a type of living service that constantly changes in accordance with audience needs. The conversation involves how we deliver an experience and how we can learn to make it even better.

UX needs nothing more than is absolutely necessary

UX design is simple, but don’t confuse that with delivering less. In this case, we’re referring to clarity. If a person can easily understand and use something, it has fulfilled the essentials of good design. You want to guide people, not overwhelm them.

UX targets the subconscious

The best UX delves deeply into different psychologies that include (but are not limited to) product use and adoption, play, and social interaction. The most popular experiences incorporate all of these. Users respond so positively because the app, website, or product appears to operate the way they naturally think.

These basic tenets will always be central to good UX design because they make for more engaging and appealing products and services. Just as the best movies follow a tried and true plot formula, certain design principles are so intuitive that they nearly always improve usability and, as a result, drive wider adoption of a product.

This post contributed by Alexander, who is responsible for content and UX design for Melbourne digital marketing agency Multiply Digital. He believes in a user-first approach to everything to do with online marketing. You can also read more of his writing at his personal website.

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