Without UX design, your website is just a bunch of code, placed at random across an online interface. User Experience or UX for short, refers to the process of considering how people behave on a website and what you would like them to do, then creating your website with that ideal experience in mind.
For example, if you’re designing an ecommerce website, your goal will be - quite obviously - to get people to buy something. So, how do you carve out a user experience that leads to someone making a purchase? If your customers are time poor, how can you use your website to help them find what they need, quickly and easily?
The best websites place people at the heart of their design and use technology as an enabler to bring their needs to life. As all leading brands understand; if you focus first on what your customers want, your sales will follow.
Here are our 5 top pioneers of UX design
1. Black UX Collective
The famous faces of UX design have remained notoriously pale even over recent years. In fact, whilst researching information about our favourite UX pioneers, we struggled to find many articles that referenced UX designers who weren’t white. This isn’t right and doesn’t represent the large and talented pool of black UX designers who are making a difference to our user journeys every day.
The Black UX Collective was founded by Jacquelyn Iyamah, an Experience Designer based in the U.S. Jacquelyn is passionate about showcasing the incredible work of black UX designers. With this in mind, she has asked UX Designers, UI Designers, Product Designers, UX Researchers, IxD Designers and Product Managers of colour to submit their case studies, stories and portfolios so they can be showcased on the site and Instagram account. This is exactly what all of us in the UX industry need to support and shout about, so we can celebrate the diverse range of UX design pioneers who exist across the globe!
2. Donald Norman
Regarded by many as the founder of UX, Donald Norman coined the term, “user experience”. He has since written many books that aim to demystify the practice of UX, such as “The Design of Everyday Things” and “User Centred System Design”.
Don Norman’s main philosophy has always centered on putting people at the forefront of design. He often refers to a quote from Muriel Rukeyzer that says, “The Universe is made of stories, not atoms”.
Therein lies the primary principle of UX - websites are designed to take people on a journey, not simply to present information to them.
Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
The best brands, websites, products and services all provide something that nobody else can. And often, they give us something we didn’t even know we needed.
Amazon has completely revolutionised our online shopping experience - in fact it’s hard to remember the ecommerce world before their intuitive approach to online shopping became the norm. They have advanced at an extraordinary pace, by offering consumers a quick and easy online shopping experience. More than that, their Amazon Prime service made us realise we NEEDED next day delivery, and their one-click payment option has been emulated by countless other ecommerce brands.
They don’t just find out what customers want now. Instead, they research what customers may want in the future and their UX design keeps evolving.
4. Brenda Laurel, PHD
Brenda Laurel, Ph.D. works as an independent scholar and consultant. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusiveness in the world of gaming and wrote the book, “Computers as Theatre”.
She has a keen interest in virtual reality and has worked hard to change perceptions of online gaming for girls where previously it had been assumed that girls just did not ‘like’ it. Brenda created Purple Moon and disproved this theory with a tailored user experience and a polite disregard for established assumptions and stereotypes.
What was unique about Brenda Laurel’s approach was that, instead of relying on existing research, she actually spoke to girls. She followed them around, asked questions and developed a real understanding of what they liked and what might influence them.
The end result received mixed reviews and showed that we have a long way to go to change perceptions in the heavily male-dominated gaming industry, but Brenda’s approach inspired us to think about research, assumptions and stereotypes in the field of UX.
Simplicity breeds trust. That could be the motto for PayPal (you’re welcome!) because their site is darn easy to use. No hidden nasties, no devious tricks to confuse their users and no superfluous detail on the site, just simple UX that helps people use their products and services with ease.
We’ve paid a lot of attention to PayPal’s approach and try to keep our user experience design as uncluttered and ‘quiet’ as possible. UX design should help people get what they need, not stress them out.
UX design at DD
At Digital Detox, we take inspiration from the pioneers of UX design when implementing our own user experience processes in-house.
We’re always thinking ahead rather than resting on how things are today. How can we be better? How can we improve our customers’ experiences and their customers’ experiences? Are we designing journeys with all users in mind, free from preconceptions and bias?
A key aspect of our approach to UX design is interactivity. Instead of trying to explain a concept using lengthy documents or wordy descriptions, we show. We use interactive visual prototypes wherever possible, so customers can play with the user journey and test out their own theories in a practical way. We favour user journeys that are simple and intuitive - giving users what they want in an easy way, without their needing to hunt for it.
If you have an idea, challenge or problem to solve, our unique approach to UX design could be the answer! Get in touch for a chat