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What is a User Experience Designer?

Instructor: Eileen Tong
In this lesson, you will learn the fundamentals of what user experience is as well as the general roles and responsibilities of a user experience designer.

What is User Experience

Think of the last time you went to the grocery store. You expected to be able easily find your groceries in the aisles and check out using your preferred method of payment. If the process of finding and checking out groceries went smoothly, you'd be more likely to recommend it to all of your friends and family. On the other hand, if the process was difficult, you'd be more likely to dissuade them from shopping there.

For many products and services, you gain a general impression based on your prior experiences. User experience, also known as UX, aims to 'improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a system'. These systems may be digital like web or mobile apps, but can also be non-digital like automobiles.

The Role of a User Experience Designer

A user experience designer studies how a user perceives your product and service and tries to improve their overall experience. They may look at some common core elements such as:

Usability: Does the system make it easy for users to complete essential tasks?

Utility: Does the system create additional value for users?

Desirability: Is the system enjoyable to use?

The role of a user experience designer is vast and highly dependent on the company's understanding of UX. While some designers focus on a few aspects of the UX process, others get exposure to the entire process from start to finish. Some of the responsibilities of a UX designer may include:

User Research: User research occurs in the beginning stages of a UX process, before a product gets built out. The goal of user research is to find the underlying goals, motivations, and behaviors of the existing or potential user base. Going back to the example of the grocery store, imagine that Whole Foods is trying to expand their e-commerce presence. You might consider conducting different types interviews with existing or potential Whole Foods customers or observing their typical shopping habits in-store. A few other techniques you may use in this part of the process include developing personas of the average Whole Foods customer and conducting surveys.

Design: After you have gathered information about your users, you then move on to the design phase. The design phase within a UX process focuses more on overall flow, usability, and functionality of the product, rather than visual design. Good designs use research as its base to inform relevant decisions. Designs have various level of fidelity, which relates the amount of details and functionality it has. For example, you may create anything from rough sketch of the proposed updates to the Whole Foods site to a fully built out interactive website.

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