UX or 'User Experience' is a buzzword that a lot of developers and designers have been excited about in the past few years, but what does it really mean?
The Interaction Design Foundation defines user experience design as:
The process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.
This essentially means that user experience design focuses on making a person’s interactions with a product, more enjoyable. This process begins long before a product’s creation and includes everything from why a user would want the product, to how the product looks, to how easy it is to use, to what happens when something goes wrong.
Understanding user experience
Anyone who has struggled to find a certain page on a website, been frustrated trying to close a pop up window, or really visited any site on the web, has interacted with a product of user experience design. Good UX often goes unnoticed, because the user’s journey is so smooth that they don’t even think about it. Good UX is a subtle thing that makes a big impact on the number of happy customers, eventual subscribers, and ultimate sales.
Bad UX on the other hand, causes a user to be frustrated and aware of the poor experience they are having. In the end they will likely leave the site they’re trying to interact with, which is detrimental to potential customers, sales, and ultimately, success.
But, UX doesn’t just apply in the online world. A great example of a poor user experience in the physical world is a door. A door with a great user experience doesn’t require a push or pull sign. You can tell whether you are meant to push or pull the door as you approach, simply by looking at the style and position of the handle. You walk through the door without giving it any thought, and are on your way before realizing you have just had a good user experience.
Alternatively, if you have to search for a push or pull sign as you approach a door, and then make the wrong choice and push when you should have pulled, or vice versa, you take notice. You’re embarrassed and frustrated that you made a mistake, when it was in fact the design of the door, and the user experience itself, that was poor.
Good UX design then, would have considered who would be using the door, why they would be going through it, how fast they would be moving, where they would be going, how the door looks, how it sounds, how it functions, what someone would do if the door broke, and much more.
We all face millions of tiny user experience interactions like this every day. From struggling to find your way through Union Station, to being confused about the self-checkout lanes at Loblaws, UX design has an effect on everything we do.
Why has UX become so popular?
In the early days of the web, when there was limited content available online, users were willing to do some work. If you had to wait for a page to appear, search through an unattractive design for information, or fight against annoying pop-ups and ads, it wasn’t much of a problem, because there weren’t many other options. Today, when there are millions of web pages providing virtually identical products, resources, and information, a frustrating interaction, an annoying pop up, or even a millisecond delay, means a user will leave and find what they need elsewhere.
Developers and designers have slowly come to realize this over the years, and have been putting more time and effort into their users’ experience. A field which once took only a few hours of testing at the end of a project, now has schedules, positions, and even entire teams dedicated to ensuring user experience is excellent and considered at every phase of a design process.
Why do you need to learn about UX design?
Whether you’re a designer, developer, or simply someone working in tech in Toronto, experience in the UX field can only help you level up in your career.
If you’re a designer, learning about UX design makes your skill set and your qualifications more relevant in a 2018 job market that is increasingly focused on the consumer and user. It also puts you a step above the competition by giving you the theoretical and psychological research background that many designers don’t have the opportunity for.
If you’re a developer, learning about UX design gives you more cross-functional skills, and can help guide your career in a more design focused direction. It can also help you level up by teaching you how to put the user at the forefront of the websites and applications you are developing.
If you’re not a designer or developer, but you work in a field where thinking about the user is necessary, learning about UX design can be equally as beneficial. This includes a wide variety of roles such as a tech related training role, a work-flow design role, or any role that impacts a human’s experience or interaction with something, Learning about UX design can again help you level-up, by putting a human-centered spin on the processes and interactions you design on a daily basis.
How can HackerYou help?
At HackerYou, our UX Design courses are some of our most popular because they are different than other UX courses offered in Toronto. We go beyond just wireframing apps and discussing where a user will be clicking. You’re focusing on the human-centered aspect of user experience, and thinking about the emotional implications of how a user interacts with a product. The core focus of our course is exploring user interactions, discovering issues, and solving them. In these courses, you’re not designing something to look nice, you’re creating something that solves an issue, and ends up looking nice along the way.
These courses are designed for those working as a designer or developer, and for graduates of our part-time web development courses. Through design thinking and the exploration of design principles, our students learn how to put user experience at the center of everything they create.
If you’re looking for someone who will only teach you how to make pretty things, this might not be the best course for you. But if you want to learn how to use qualitative and quantitative research to solve problems with beautiful design, then you’ve hit the jackpot with this class. - Jessica Del Grande, Cohort 13 Bootcamp Graduate, Front-End Web Application Developer/UX Designer at Tier1CRM.
In UX Design Fundamentals, students will become design thinkers and gain a holistic understanding of the field of UX. They will design an application that solves a simple transit issue in Toronto, like bicycle safety, traffic congestion, or unreliable transit. The user experience will be at the core of the app they design, and they will use the Design Sprint Process (DSP) to put focus on the research and methodology that goes into creating a user focused design. A great example is Transitter by Holly Mclean, pictured below.
In Advanced UX Design, students will build upon the concepts learned in fundamentals and use design theories in more complex ways. They will conceptualize a final project that tackles a previously unsolvable (or wicked) problem. This final project does not require a finalized application design, but rather a focus on research, methodology, communication skills, and putting all their course learnings into action through a user centered solution. A great example is Addvocate by Thomas Lowry, pictured below.
Regardless of where you are in the tech industry, or why you are interested in design, learning about user experience design can do nothing but level-up your skill set. From being able to understand a user’s thought process, to creating a research methodology, to designing a functional, user-centered application, user experience design will help you make your user the first priority. If you think UX Design at HackerYou sounds right for you, or you’re interested in learning more about the course and upcoming sessions, you can apply now to set up an interview.