What does UX Design mean? Explained simply and understandably!

With UX design you develop simple, convincing user interfaces and digital products. The focus is on the users, their needs and intuitive operation!

With user experience design, or UX design for short, you can develop better user interfaces and digital products!

First, we will briefly show the history of user interfaces up to the present day, because the development has been really rapid!

Then there are the basic terms like UI design, user experience and UX strategy that you need to know and distinguish.

Last but not least, you get a step-by-step guide on how to develop and explain good user interfaces and what time investment you should plan.

A brief history of UX design

What was it like with user interfaces in the past? Requirements for user interfaces (UIs) and the way they are developed have changed significantly in recent years. In short, we have evolved from completely overloaded UIs to simple and self-explanatory UIs. The background to this is the shift from a product-centric to a user-centric model.

User interfaces used to look very different, there wasn't really a UX design process.

Today, the focus is on people as users. It is not the person who has to "somehow get along" with the user interface, but the product must be useful to the user. The user must meet needs, requirements and achieve his or her tasks and goals. In the best case, work must be easy and fun. But why are user interfaces so important?

User interfaces are on the one hand the first visible, but also the decisive product feature, because they contribute significantly to the user experience (UX) and satisfaction.

Today, user interfaces are among the decisive factors when software solutions or control elements (displays) are evaluated. The quality of user interfaces is often the deciding factor in whether products are purchased. As you know: there is no second chance for the first impression. You may have experienced it when you couldn't find the right ticket at the ticket machine and broke out in a sweat. You barely managed to catch the train. This negative feeling in connection with the ticket purchase will manifest itself.

And that applies to any user interface today, whether it's a ticket machine, smartphone app, construction machinery, machine tools or even the latest AI application! Including the user's focus and providing a positive experience for the user is independent of the industry. At least that is our opinion!

In addition, users of Generation Y and Z today expect a user-friendliness similar to that of a smartphone or tablet - also in the B2B sector and its applications. Face up to this demand that all your products can be used just like a smartphone or tablet, for example. Your customers and users will pay you back when they have more fun working with attractive and intuitively designed UIs.

Rethink user interfaces and develop in a radically user-centric way.

A timeline of how user-centricity evolved over time and is now as part of the business strategy and how it has changed through UX design.

This user-centred view will change the development process. This requires new processes that focus on the user perspective. A few years ago, user-centred processes emerged that improved development.

Welcome to the age of UX strategy!

Today, more and more companies are realising that user-centricity can help the entire company.

UX Research first! Create a basis for decision-making

UX Research is the basis for decisions in the company

But why should user-centred thinking be incorporated into corporate strategy? Clearly - because it is a scientific basis for decision-making throughout the organisation! Do we need a new employee? Do we need a new tool for our customer processes?

Do we develop our software with these and these features? All these questions can be answered by collecting data and information, interviewing the people concerned, systematising the feedback process in order to test alternative solutions. The bottom line is: UX design is nothing more than repeating this cycle of user research, prototypical solutions, testing, data collection as often as necessary.

From our point of view, we have arrived at the age of UX strategy. Not only apps, software solutions, controls, etc. should be oriented towards user needs, but also internal and customer-oriented processes. Meeting user needs and human-centred work should become part of the corporate strategy.

Our appeal: Anchor the user-centred/human-centred mindset in your company. You will very quickly receive positive feedback from your customers, users and colleagues.

What is UI design and what is UX design?

...and what are the benefits for you?

We don't assume you know everything about user-centred product development. Every organisation is on a different UX level! That's why we want to familiarise you with a few basic terms - you know: the ones we care about most!

UI design: Why we groan when we have to work with bad UIs

You know what it's like: you feel that user interfaces (UIs) are bad because you can't find your way around, you can hardly operate the software or app and it takes you too long to understand the user interface. As a result, you do not enjoy working with the product and rate your experience as negative. The usability, i.e. the usability fails. Unusable products are the result of user needs not being taken into account. A user-centred process that prevents this would be UX design.

Please do not confuse these two terms: UX design and UI design, because they are completely different things! UI design is a sub-process of UX design.

UI design involves the creation of graphic components and elements such as buttons and the arrangement of navigation. Since it is the first element that the user perceives, we give the UI such an exposed role. But you might ask yourself how you get there and what is needed, for example, to arrange a good navigation or to design attractive buttons. That's what the UX design process is for: with the help of various UX design methods, UX designers define interactions between humans and machines and design models for user interfaces.

UI design is part of UX design, the goal of UX design is maximum user experience

UX Design: The only way to develop really good user interfaces

User experience design is a fairly new discipline in product development. The focus is on the user experience, the user and his or her requirements. This is also referred to as user-centred design. A UX design process combines various tools from user-centred product development, for example:

User interviews
Usability tests
User Journey Map
Jobs to be done
UI design

Your benefit: You get to know users and their needs. Based on this, you develop prototypes and test, test, test. Whether the usability is right and users understand and like your interface. In focus: Obtain maximum knowledge, minimise waste of resources, such as development capacities, and achieve maximum user experience.

You see, UX design is field study-based. It is a rewarding, empirical and scientific way of redesigning and developing products because you rely on validated results.

What makes a good user experience?

Have you ever heard the following excuse: "Our user interface is difficult to use because it is so complicated"? Then the question inevitably arises: can the user interface help to reduce complexity?

This is precisely where the art of simply convincing user interfaces lies. They only come about through the claim to offer customers the best user experience. For the user, a good user experience does not start with the thought: "This product is complicated" but "Wow! This product helps me to solve my task in a structured way and without having to think too much. The user interface guides me and it knows what I want". That would be an example of good usability.

Good user experience often remains invisible - unless it is missing!

The basis for a good user experience is high goals. Don't settle for a bumpy user experience. You will soon realise that your customers and users prefer to work with your solutions rather than those of your competitors. A purchase decision often depends on usability, i.e. whether your software is usable or not.

UX design is the only method to develop really good user interfaces.

And where do we start? Methodology for simply convincing user interfaces

One thing in advance - no (UX) professional has ever fallen from the sky. We believe that UX can be learned and taught. You don't need to be a UX designer, have studied interaction design or have gone through the 10th agile coaching. The first thing you need is the confidence that users will give you valuable information about how you want your products to look. Put the user at the centre of your application. Even if it's hard, get used to this image! The more complex your product is, the more important it is to address user experience. What's left to say - we'll be happy to help you help yourself with our UX design workshop!

The scientific background - ISO 9241

Use the time to be clear about what processes you need and also what possibilities there are to work in a user-centred way. For this, it is worth taking a closer look at scientific tools such as the ISO 9241 standard. Here you get conventions for the development of user interfaces. These have been collected scientifically over the years and anchored in the international ISO standard. It is worthwhile to take a look at the part of the standard entitled "Development of interactive designs". Your advantage: If you get stuck on how to proceed, whether from a process point of view or if you want to model a specific interaction: Don't reinvent the wheel, because there are standardised patterns that will help you.

Here is a short methodological guide for user-centred user interfaces

5 steps to user-centred user interfaces

1. develop a UX strategy

Look at the issue of user interface development strategically! Ask the question: what needs to happen for us to work in a user-centred way and develop good user interfaces? Do you need a clear structure in development? Do you need a common mindset? Do you need certain skills in the team that are not yet present? Do you need a design system that creates a basis for communication? Or do you need convincing arguments for your stakeholders to invest in UX strategy, UX design and good user interfaces? You see: To use UX design, you cannot avoid thinking about how to strategically position your team for it.

2. meet the needs of your users

Collect information and data about the use of your applications. Preferably before you start developing or optimising anything tangible: find out what your users' problem is, what they want, expect, would be willing to try out, etc. The more information you get, the easier it is to develop features that are highly relevant and give great value to users.

UX projects need a clear user focus

Here are 5 questions to help you understand your users:

What tasks do users regularly perform with it?

What are you currently worried about?

What do you want to achieve (with your UX designers)?

What might users dislike?

Ideas - Demand - How could these concerns be addressed?

3 Collaborate & Communicate

User-centredness alone is difficult. Get colleagues on board to support you. Involve opinions and departments , ask acquaintances if they can give you feedback from the user's point of view. Trust in the following thesis: "User-centricity in the company has a high return on investment (ROI)": Well-designed user interfaces and a high user experience promote sales, improve satisfaction and recommendations and save resources for support and maintenance.

Don't get tired of communicating these benefits to customers, users and colleagues. This will help you pursue your vision with colleagues, customers and partners.

4 Evaluate, Test, Innovate - it's a Process

Try out the chosen solutions prototypically. Even if solutions sound crazy or unconventional. User interfaces (UIs) should not be one-size-fits-all. Be the pioneer for good UIs in your industry. Make good user experience your trademark and your flagship innovation. Re-think your user interface and don't be afraid to do everything differently or at least try it out. Don't start implementing straight away, but test your ideas extensively, keeping an open mind and testing lots of different ideas, no matter who they come from. Give a voice to everyone who can contribute their experience and expertise in the development process. This is how you create real innovation.

Good interfaces need time and good processes.

Take your time, define processes or adapt existing ones. The most important thing is to follow your vision of good user interfaces. Also be prepared for the following: You do UX interviews but don't get any useful feedback. In this case, we advise you to go over to "shadowing" (accompanying the user in his familiar environment). Test different UX methods and evaluate the outcome. Nothing is set in stone. Give yourself the freedom to try out some methods and iteratively develop the right processes.

Keep the (design) artefacts from each iteration. Visualise how far you have come and share it with the team. Celebrating success is also part of our UX process!

Estimating the working time for a good user interface

You might be asking yourself - all well and good, but how long does it take or what expenses do I have to calculate for the development of simply convincing user interfaces? We would like to show you briefly how long you should calculate for a good UX design in a first iteration.

Always remember - the time you allow for development is directly related to how important the project is to you. If you decide to rethink your user interface and develop it further with UX design or to design a completely new user interface, you should plan about 80 hours to get to a first iteration. Of course, this is also an average value that depends on the scope of the application.

Typical duration of a UX process

Below you will find some average times from the projects we have carried out

  • 7 hours - Workshop Scope and Synthesis
  • 3 hours ideation
  • 10 hours - Concept development and user feedback planning
  • 20 Obtain user feedback
  • 20 hours prototyping
  • 20 hours validation

Studies and articles worth knowing

Advantages of UX Design and Return on Investment

UX strategy

UX Design and Software Engineering

UX Design with interfacewerk

I hope we have succeeded in providing you with useful and interesting information on the topic of UX Design and Co. Are you convinced that UX design can make many things easier for you? We believe in simply convincing user interfaces and their benefits for users and manufacturers. And we don't just write - we also speak - plain language! Arrange a meeting with us - you describe your challenge, we show you how UX Design will help you. We uncover the weaknesses in the user experience and show you ways to solve them.

Your benefit - you receive from us:

Essentials and things to know about UX design, concrete recommendations for action, projects and budgets
A guide: with recommended actions, How to embed UX design and processes in your company
Our promise - expertise from over 100 projects, transparency, trust and communication at eye level

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