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What Does a UX Designer Actually do?

what does a ux designer actually do

As UX remains in a nascent stage in India, people often ask me what does a UX designer actually do? They’ve heard of the term UX Designer and UX Design, but they don’t know its meaning or applications.

Due to its relative recentness, there is still confusion about UX and what does a UX designer do for a living as its function pose a particular enigma to many.

Let me clarify one thing – to understand what does a UX designer do; one must first understand UX design. One must also know that a UX designer’s role may vary depending on the size of the organisation, their level of experience, and the industry they’re working in.

Imagine if a person into gardening. They’ve set up a balcony garden. If asked about their garden, they would say:

  • I have several plants on shelves as well as on the floor of my balcony garden.
  • One major part of the foundation is synthetic grass, and some positions are made of wood.
  • I have also placed some white stones around a few plants to make them look pleasant.

But do they give you all the information about their garden? like:

  • How does one enter the balcony?
  • What does one experience in the garden?
  • Why are most of the plants on the floor when they could be hung up?

I am trying to establish the difference between UI and UX, where UI focuses on the looks while UX focuses on the experience.

And in this post, I would answer those who are curious about what does a UX designer do.

What is UX?

UX Stands for user experience. Don Norman devised the term in 1993. If you have ever wondered why certain apps give you a delightful experience, while a few frustrate you, the answer lies in user experience design. People think that UX is a new concept. However, that is not true. The history of UX dates back to 4000 BC. But that’s not the point here.

According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “UX is the process design teams use to create 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.”

In simpler terms, UX Design is a vast and multidisciplinary field that shapes a product, service, gadget or even new technology we use in our daily lives. The term encompasses various elements that determine the feelings of a user while communicating with a product. UX has many subsets, such as UI design, usability, accessibility, functionality, etc.

When people ask what does a UX designer do, the more straightforward answer is that a UX designer is an integral part of teams that make products such as an app, a website or even a gadget but often don’t possess a technical background. This makes UX design a great career choice for someone who:

  • Can empathise with their users.
  • Can solve problems.
  • Can think creatively and critically.
  • He wants to make the most from the tech boom but not become a developer.

What is a UX designer?

Well, it is the most googled term out there, followed by who is a UX designer? And what does a UX designer do? One’s searching wants to know the roles and responsibilities or day-to-day tasks of this role in all cases. One must remember that the daily charges of a UX designer may vary from project to p[roject and organisation to organisation or even between projects within the same organisation.

Working in UX involves research, testing, project management and business analysis, and design tasks such as wireframing and prototyping. One can expect certain general functions that a UX designer performs, such as:

Conducting user research

They start with user research by learning about users and their behaviour, goals, motivations, and needs. UX designers collect data through interviews, online surveys, focus groups, competitive analysis etc. The data is gathered, analysed and turned into useful information (both qualitative and quantitative), leading to decision-making.

Create user personas

Then, they also devise user personas to identifying key user groups and their demographics. Personas allow them to understand how the product can be implemented in the daily lives of the users.

Managing information architecture

They then arrange the content within the product(an app or website) to guide the user towards a goal. Think of it as a sitemap that helps the user accomplish their tasks. Remember, efficient information architecture allows users to achieve their goals.

Create user flows and wireframes

After IA, the UX designer creates user flows, which allows them to structure the product as per the user’s needs. They then design wireframes, which is a low-fidelity representation of the product without any content to describe the user’s journey as they interact with the product.

Design prototypes

Once the wireframes are tested, a UX designer then generates a prototype, a final clickable version. It further enables them to try all interactions with the product, to make further iterations or put it forth to the stakeholder and others to view and examine.

Conduct user testing

As the prototype is provided to test and gather feedback, it is considered a minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP is the first iteration of the product for the market. User testing can be either structured or unstructured based on the kind of approach the organisation is willing to take.

I think I have answered the question of what does a UX designer do? I would also like to point out that this is more of a generalist perception, as in larger organisations, roles become a bit more specific depending upon the team the UX designer is a part of.

I would also like to share a few UX designer skills with you so you know how to work with UX/UI designers as one.

UX designer skills

I want to mention many articles online that will say this UX designer skills are soft skills, but I beg to differ. I found an article online that divided these UX designer skills into three categories – soft skills, industry skills and crossover skills.

As promised, here are the necessary UX designer skills that can be found in many stellar UX designers:

Soft skills

  • Collaborative and communication skills.
  • Empathy.
  • Curiosity.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Critical thinking.

Industry skills

  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • UX writing
  • Visual communication
  • User testing

Crossover skills

  • Business knowledge
  • Research and analytical skills
  • Customer service

From the above lists, one can understand that thriving UX designers have an incredibly diverse skill set. If one can accomplish even a part of these UX designer skills, they know how to work with UX/UI designers.

Conclusion

As you can see, UX is an enthralling and diverse career path. One must remember that UX design is a process of regular iteration. A UX designer’s work doesn’t stop after releasing the product. Their continuous learning drives future improvements. So next time somebody asks you what does a UX designer do? You can answer by saying that the role of a UX designer is complex, challenging and multifaceted. It’s an enjoyable and worthwhile creative role.

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