User experience is constantly evolving, and at the same time, it is important to revisit some of the basic concepts that make up the backbone of design. Omnitech Graphic Designer, Alissa shares her experience at Nebraska Code in the third post of our four part series focused on design and user experience.
Design and User Experience
As a designer, it was a great opportunity to attend Nebraska Code where the majority of attendees are engineers, developers, and project managers. The benefit extended beyond just my technical skill advancement, but also included benefits that will positively impact our team. I was able to expand my skills in front-end development while also refocusing on the idea that user experience (UX) is a holistic effort that needs to be embraced by everyone – UX goes beyond just design and I can carry this information to the engineers so they can also understand the impact of creative UX design.
The UX sessions consisted of development strategies, effectiveness of good UX and how to make UX work for your company. The effectiveness of good UX involves satisfaction, learnability, efficiency and memorability. Memorability was a new concept for me and it means how well a user remembers an application after they have left. Exploring new concepts and meaning to things that we all use every single day is a highlight of my time when attending events like Nebraska Code.
First step in the implementation of good UX is obviously – research the user. Understand their age, gender, location, browser most desired, devices being used and so on. ALL of your goals are for your users, period. Sometimes as a designer, that’s tough to swallow. “WHAT? I am designing for the user and not what I want?” Well, I guess that is why they call it user experience and not designer experience. The best way to find out most about your users is through observation. Watch them work, note their process and have them teach you. Another effective exercise I recommend is a short, anonymous survey or questionnaire. Three to five questions; nobody wants to spend too much of their time filling out answers and the anonymous nature guarantees honest feedback.
Next, design. Good UX is rooted from solid design concepts. Start with wireframing. If there is an internal team to critique your thoughts, take advantage of it. Keep the wireframing simple. At this step, it really is focusing on processes more than design. You don’t want to get distracted by color, fonts and imagery. Find people that are willing to really critique the work and not just “fluff” around trying not to make you feel like your ideas are silly. After wireframing, start mocking up the ideas into designs that are going to reflect the application. Use prototype tools to show the mocks in action, allowing users to see firsthand how the application will work without putting all of the hours into development. One of the prototype tools mentioned at the conference, is one that I am familiar with and have been using the last few months called InVision. Once mocks are implemented, you can sit with users to see how they work with the new designs.
Good UX does not need training. Interesting since user experience means the overall experience of a person using a website or application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. If it is easy and pleasing, why would anyone need training? Yes, more complex applications, there will be a little training, it’s inevitable. But if the application is usable, there will be less training, and the user will retain the information quicker.
I really enjoyed my time spent at the Nebraska Code Conference. It was valuable to get a refresher on the basics along with gaining new knowledge in an atmosphere outside of design. It really inspired me to look beyond just design concepts and think about how time can be spent on experience. I’ve always been intrigued by the research that can go into a project, and now I have learned ways to implement that research, through process, design and development.
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