User experience, commonly referred to as “UX”, describes anything to do with a user’s interaction with a product such as a website, web app, mobile app, even a company itself. A UX designer, therefore, designs those experiences.
As a discipline UX design has exploded over the past few years; more and more organizations are opening their eyes to the fact that the success of a product relies on understanding its users. In-house teams are branching out and including UX professionals among their ranks, and UX consultants are being employed to train web professionals of all types (after all, UX touches every aspect of what designers, developers, and managers do). Whether you’re new to the industry and are keen to become a UX designer, or you’re a designer, or developer, and would like a better appreciation of how UX can improve what you do, now is the perfect time to jump in and educate yourself.
So how do you go about learning UX design? The following steps and tutorials will get you started!
Step 1: Understand What UX Actually Is
There’s a fair amount of confusion around what is and what isn’t UX design, so begin by making sure you’re clear on the subject.
- What is UX Design? by Joanna Ngai
- The Basics of Great UX by Justin Smith
- Stop Paying Lip Service to the User Experience by Paul Boag
Step 2: Learn to Empathize
We talk a lot about “empathy” and understanding users’ needs, but who exactly are those users? Answer: they are many and they are varied. They are people of all ages, from all across the globe, with differing motivations, abilities, situations and perspectives. Truly understanding all of them is no mean feat.
And let’s not forget about the stakeholders; they have needs too. It’s no good tailoring everything for the users’ needs if you haven’t considered the business goals.
- Making the Web Accessible for Everyone With Inclusive Design and Diverse Personas by Graeme Fulton
- The Finer Details of UX for Kids by Justin Smith
- Tips for Designing and Building a Multilingual Website by Kevin Vertommen
Step 3: Recognize the User-Centered Design Process
Different individuals might use slightly differing stages in their process, but one thing always holds true: UX design doesn’t end when the product is shipped. It’s a process of researching (discovery), collecting data, forming hypotheses, applying and repeating. Over the years various methodologies have emerged (you may have heard the terms “waterfall”, “agile” and “lean”) so it’s a good idea to understand these approaches.
Whichever workflow is used, at any given point decisions are made with the users in mind. This is true of the first stages in the process and continues right throughout a product’s life, well beyond its first launch.
- First Steps in Your User Experience Workflow: Nascent UX by Justin Smith
- UX Design Process: Problem Solving and Testing by Joanna Ngai
- A Designer’s Introduction to “Agile” Methodology by Joel
Step 4: Make Research Your Best Friend
Research is perhaps the most important stage in any design process, and yet the one voted “most likely to be ignored” by its highschool classmates. Researching is crucial. Do it.
- The Importance of UX Research by Joanna Ngai
- UX Research: How to Build an Interview Guide by Joel
- Quick Tip: How to Run a Guerrilla Testing Session by Andreia Paralta Carqueija
Step 5: Acquaint Yourself With Deliverables
The term “deliverables” refers to the design artifacts handed over by UX designers. These may be wireframes, personas, customer journey maps, prototypes, and they can be delivered at any point during the UX design process.
Supporters of a “lean” approach to UX design will argue that deliverables weigh the process down in paperwork, ultimately at the expense of the final experience. Whether you use them or not, they’re an important part of many UX designers’ workflows.
- What Exactly Is a “Deliverable”? by Joel
- A Beginner’s Guide to Wireframing by Winnie Lim
- 3 High-level Approaches to Prototyping by Example by Nick Bewley
Step 6: Fill Your Toolbox
So you understand what UX is, the UX designer’s process, now let’s talk about the tools a UX Designer uses on a daily basis.
- Choosing UX Design Tools by Joanna Ngai
- Sketching: The Essential UX Designer’s Toolkit by Andreia Paralta Carqueija
- Usability Testing Tools for Quick and Early Feedback by Andreia Paralta Carqueija
Go Forth and Learn!
There they are: 18 tutorials and articles to help you on your way to becoming a UX designer. Let us know in the comments if you have any unanswered questions and don’t forget to check back for more learning guides in the future!