Here’s What a UX Designer Actually Does

Many people ask one simple question: What would a UX designer do exactly? Even IT people aren’t sure what the job entails, so it’s time to explain the mystery behind the initials. Cognitive scientist Donald Norman was hired by Apple in the 1990s, and he is the one who made up the UX Designer job title. In very basic terms, UX design enhances a program user’s experience using the cognitive senses, but there’s much more it than that, so please keep reading.

The Four Musts

UX designers take into account four things: graphics, industrial design, interface, and physical interaction. A good example of where UX design is used most is in the new wearable technology and in virtual reality applications. Pokémon Go, for example, brings users in a virtual world that takes advantage of their five senses and their brain. This is the benefit of UX design jobs. They create a world that immerses the user into it, taking black and white and turning it into countless colors, if you will.

Not Just Gaming

This does not mean that UX designers focus on gaming. They don’t. They focus on a user’s entire technological experience. Your sports watch is another example of this technology. You use it to track your exercise routine and maintain your fitness. You also use to track your dietary intake. You can make phone calls on it and respond to emails. It’s almost as if you have been catapulted into a world created by Gene Roddenberry… and now you see where this is going.

If you look at photos of computers in the 1980s, you wonder how they ever took off. Bulky machines that displayed boring font in weird colors with no pictures. The user experience was mind-numbing. Norman saw a different world, where technology could excite people. Norman put the Roddenberry in computers and made them Science Fiction. People could enjoy them visually and hear things other than beeps as well. The technology could draw people in, which made it big for business.

Its Stages

UX design comes in stages. First, you research a concept, such as a new app for a business. Imagine you’re a UX designer and a retail chain wants you to design a mobile app. You would research the company’s image and profile. You would also research its demographic. You may even interview its customers to see what they want in the app and build personas around a few to include in the design. The point is to engage the users; immerse them in the retailer’s world.

You would then build the app out of the research and test it. In this case, wireframe testing is employed along with user testing. The initial beta design will be bland – you want to make sure the basic framework is effective first. Then, comes the fun stuff: visual design. Now, you employ Norman’s theories and turn the app into something so visually stunning, people can’t help but be drawn in. You also focus on user interaction so it’s friendly and addictive.

This is a very basic explanation of UX designers do, but overall, the job requires imagination and technical savvy. The projections for this work are good over the next decade, and the salaries are competitive, as well.