Avoiding clashes between design and user experience
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Published on January 28, 2014
Although the concept of user experience design, or UX, has been around for more than 50 years, the principles of UX are very different today than they were in the past. While UX is often considered an integral part of the overall design process, the broad nature of the field sometimes creates conflicts between departments. Taking UX training through the American Graphics Institute is an excellent way to learn how to apply the principles of UX to your next project, but there are a number of potential pitfalls of which you should be mindful before embarking on your next collaborative endeavor.
Better, stronger, faster
One of the core principles of UX design is ensuring that end users are satisfied with their experience using a digital product or service. With many people migrating from desktop platforms to the mobile Web thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, page loading times have become one of the most important bottlenecks for designers and UX professionals alike to overcome.
Of course, this is not as simple a problem to solve as it may first appear. Today's media consumers demand an increasingly sophisticated visual experience from websites and apps, which can adversely affect the speed with which these programs run. The longer it takes for a page to load, the greater the possibility for users to become frustrated or even seek out an alternative product. For these reasons, optimizing a website's performance should be a critical component of a UX design project. Numerous research studies have defined the link between faster load times and increased conversions, necessitating close collaboration between software engineers, performance specialists and UX designers.
Back to the drawing board
Although Web designers and UX professionals often work together to accomplish certain project objectives, the basic principles of digital design are of paramount importance when creating a valuable and rewarding user experience. Some designers may be tempted to create visually stunning, yet bandwidth-intensive, webpages that look great but often fail to take mobile data processing speeds into account.
Optimization of webpage assets is the first step UX professionals and designers can tackle to improve this conflict. With many sites prioritizing advertisements over page content, simply restructuring the order in which assets load on-screen can substantially lower bounce rates. Similarly, making images as streamlined as possible for Web platforms is a commonly overlooked mistake. With as much as 50 percent of some sites' content comprising of images, optimization of visual assets is low-hanging fruit for the shrewd UX designer.
Release early, release often
This common prototyping principle is at the heart of many technology companies' ethos, including major players such as Facebook. However, fewer organizations place sufficient value on the role of A/B testing in the design process.
Simply put, A/B testing refers to the practice of providing a core group of users with two versions of the same software product or service. The functionality, ease of use, and other factors are analyzed by UX professionals, who make notes on how each iteration of the product performs according to end user expectations. This approach to testing enables designers to quickly and easily identify flaws in their design while gaining crucial insights from users at each stage of the project's development. Adopting A/B testing shouldn't be seen as a luxury, but rather a necessity.
If these principles seem unfamiliar or downright strange, don't worry. The team of experienced experts at the American Graphics Institute can teach you the fundamental practices of UX design and help you take your next project to a whole new level. Our UX training classes are ideal for professionals working in a range of roles, including business development, marketing and, of course, design.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.