UX design vs. aesthetics. Or do I need both?

Listen in to another episode of our podcast "Software for People". What is UX Design?

The latest episode of our podcast looks at the difference of an aesthetic vs. a strategic design.

The whole video here

What is UX Design (our explanation)

In the past, designers were web designers, graphic designers or UI designers. The design profession has evolved more in the UX design direction. UX designers today learn something completely different than UI designers did back then. UI design is about aesthetics, structure, layout, and making software understandable. But rarely is UI design about user research! And this point is exactly what UX design is all about! Going out, collecting data, gaining insights - these are the essential prerequisites for good products. And that's something UI designers or interaction designers do rather rarely. Nevertheless, we don't want to say that UI is unimportant or neglected when it comes to developing a good digital product. UX designers can basically do both. But: it makes sense to specialize and develop a field that you are an expert in. In large teams you often find UX researchers, graphic designers and people who can do both and support where needed.

How do I recognize good UX designers who can do both?

A good UX designer thinks rationally and oversees the product development process. They ask themselves questions like: How can I bring the user perspective into play? How do I solve the problem for the user? They know the tools and methods to figure this out without investing a lot of time and money. They like to start completely without development, armed with paper and pen. It is not about presenting everything beautifully and getting a 1* for aesthetics. It is much more about checking the understanding and usability of the interface. UX designers have the courage to be ugly! Good UX designers have two basic skills:

1. excellent communication skills. You are in the area of conflict between the business perspective (management), the product perspective (product owner, project manager...), the development perspective (engineer, developer, IT specialist) and the user perspective. And thus the UX Designer is also a mediator between these individual roles. She has to be convincing and emphatic.

2 A UX designer never works past reality. The reality in this case is the users and how they use and interact with the product. The basic attitude is to always observe users first than to push through your own and unvalidated ideas. Showing a certain curiosity is really incredibly important.

Strategic vs. aesthetic design

The strategic design is therefore the development process with all its tools and methods and should take place at the beginning of the project if possible. The aesthetic icing on the cake should come at the end, when there is a product that is useful in its function and easy to use. then of course you can also make what you have found out beautiful and design it in a visually appealing way.

And we don't want to say one is more important than the other or one of them can be neglected, it depends on where you are in the process, what the outcome of the project should be and in which context the product will be used. A machine display will definitely end up looking different than an online store. UX designers want to create knowledge and solve problems with their designs, graphic designers want to inspire and impress. And both have their right to exist!

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