What is user experience design?
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Published on January 3, 2014
Although the principle of user experience is central to virtually all aspects of modern design, few people really know what this discipline entails. User experience, commonly abbreviated as UX, is essential to any good product or online experience, but what is UX, and why should you think about taking UX training?
A scientific legacy
UX is rooted in centuries of scientific fact. Long before the term "user experience" was first coined, experts were analyzing how people used tools and products, and interacted with the world around them. This is the core of UX design. World-leading research institutes, such as the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, have been investigating human-computer interaction for decades, and before this, the emergence of cars and other byproducts of rapid industrialization necessitated the study of how people behave when interacting with complex machines.
Simply put, UX is the principle of maximizing a user's experience with a product or, increasingly, an online service. Take software applications, for example. Although the basic functionality of a software package is crucial, so too is the way in which people use it. After all, even the most powerful and advanced software would be of little use if the interface was counterintuitive. For this reason, UX design has become one of the fastest-growing and most important disciplines in modern design.
Learning from the pioneers
Few companies excel in the field of UX better than Apple. Although some people dismiss the fervor with which Apple's most loyal customers embrace the company's aesthetic, there is a reason that Apple has become one of the world's most successful technology companies. Apple's products strike the delicate balance between design and functionality, resulting in an intuitive experience that makes sense to the user.
Steve Jobs, Apple's enigmatic cofounder, famously summed up his company's approach to UX when the Macintosh computer was first launched by saying, "The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious." This principle is at the heart of the field of UX.
As crucial as good UX design is to the success of a product or service, achieving it is no easy task. The demands and expectations of today's consumers have become increasingly taxing, and the proliferation of the mobile Web and software applications has meant that UX designers must not only provide users with strong functionality, but do so in a way that makes sense and minimizes the barriers to accomplishing the task at hand. This is why UX design is so important.
Putting the puzzle together
UX designers are problem-solvers who work at the intersection of many different disciplines. Companies in virtually all sectors can benefit from UX design, which is why job opportunities in this field could expand rapidly in the coming years. As today's consumers become increasingly savvy, strong user experiences are likely to play an ever-more important role in the success of a product or service.
Using a software application as an example, UX designers must examine and assess the needs of many different teams, including management, design, engineering and, of course, the user. For this reason, professionals who are serious about maximizing the effectiveness of their product or service should consider taking UX training at the American Graphics Institute. Working on real-world projects through lab-based exercises, you'll learn the fundamentals of UX design that will allow you to communicate more effectively with developers, understand and balance the needs of engineers and other technical personnel, and create more compelling products.
Almost any professional can benefit from UX training, and no previous design experience is required. Whether you're a project manager, a designer or a business analyst, learn from industry experts at AGI and take your product to a whole new level.
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.