People interact with designed user experiences every day. User experience, or UX, refers to how someone interacts with a product – digital or physical. In mobile app development, the success of an app rests partly on how a user perceives the final product. Expectations for mobile interactions are growing, and in response, UX design has become an essential component in the development process.
This post will break down a typical day for a UX Designer at Clearbridge Mobile and their role in building a product that delivers real user value.
At a high level, UX involves everything that affects a user’s perception and interaction with a product. In technical terms, UX is the practical, experiential, meaningful, affective, and valuable characteristics of human-machine interaction and product ownership. Below is a helpful diagram that demonstrates the ingredients of a compelling UX.
Usable: A mobile app needs to be straightforward and simple to use. Apps should be designed in a way that is familiar and intuitive to the user.
Useful: No matter what, an app needs to fulfill a need. If the product doesn’t fill a gap in a user’s life, it won’t be successful in the market.
Desirable: An app’s appearance needs to be visually appealing. Graphical design components play a significant role in positive emotional attribution.
Findable: Mobile apps need to be easy to navigate, so users can find what they need quickly and efficiently.
Accessible: Mobile apps need to be designed for as many target users as possible.
Credible: The company and its products need to be trustworthy.
The combination of these six elements is what creates value for the user. The central goal of any mobile app is to deliver an experience that maximizes user value.
Even the most thoughtfully crafted UX will never be able to satisfy every circumstance or meet the needs of every mobile user, but the fundamental purpose of UX design is developing the farthest-reaching solution for a set of targeted users.
UX designers practice design thinking to take into account every detail of user interaction. Design thinking insists on an exhaustive understanding of user behavior, motivations, goals, wants and needs in the context of the product’s purpose. At Clearbridge Mobile, our Design and Discovery service leverages design thinking to achieve a better understanding of how your app will address the needs of your user.
The responsibility of a UX designer is multifaceted and challenging. At Clearbridge Mobile, our UX design team designs and prototypes user experiences grounding in user research. In collaboration with the rest of their project team, our designers determine your app’s target audience, as well as their needs, and design UX solutions to solve common pain points.
This post follows Roberto Pagliero and Shelly Jameer: two UX/UI designers at Clearbridge Mobile. Here is what they have to say about their work life.
Roberto: We enhance the human experience on mobile devices. Realistically, the goal is to connect business goals with user needs through research, prototyping, testing, and refining the stages that satisfy both sides.
We’re UX designers, but we also do user interface (UI) design. From the UX side, we design the functionality necessary for a mobile app MVP and figure out the best way to integrate that into the product with UI design. We come up with smart solutions.
Shelly: UX design is often mistakenly thought of as UI design, but they go hand in hand. I think of it like this – UI design is making a product visually appealing, and UX design is making it work. It’s understandable why people confuse the two terms because design is always associated with colors and graphics. However, UX design is more about user interaction with an app and how the user moves from one task to another within the experience.
The UI is the visual component of an app. It’s the look, the feel, and the presentation of a product. UX design is the function behind those visuals. UX design is the backbone that ties together how an app appears and how it works.
Roberto: Well, our day always starts with daily standups in the morning. If we’re on three different projects, any one of those projects can be in a different stage. I could be researching one, or figuring out user flows in another, and doing mockups and final artwork for another. It’s a mix of that. I don’t imagine Shelly’s day is much different.
Shelly: I agree. I either spend my mornings in standups and organizing deliverables, or in a discovery session with clients. I make sure everyone has what they need. This includes checking in with developers and exporting assets for a project in implementation, or working with clients and the project management team to create deliverables such as user journeys, wireframes, branded mockups, and a clickable prototype for discovery sessions.
Roberto: Depending on what stage of the process we’re in really determines what my day looks like. Communication is a constant factor for any day. We’re always collaborating with Developers, Project Managers, Architects, and the whole team really. Communication is key in this line of work.
Shelly: Everywhere. Literally, everywhere. I get inspiration from experiences, conversations, people, things I see, and things I read. Obviously, there are blogs and resources on the internet and in magazines, but you can find inspiration that impacts your creativity and ideas from everything if you’re willing to look at things the right way.
Roberto: I’m a little more literal. I like to look at visual things; I’ll look at magazines, I’ll look online, I’ll look at other apps. Imagination certainly plays into it but I need a seed for it to grow.
Shelly: I like everything about this job. I like meeting new people and collaborating with clients on new projects. I also enjoy learning from different people around the office; whether it’s developers, architects or the project management team, there’s always something new to learn.
Roberto: I would say the variety of content I get to work on. Every app is different and even if the general theme is similar, the content and concepts are so different.
Also, I’ve always loved seeing an app come to life from discovery through development and then seeing it in the App Store. That’s always a big moment for me: when you get to see the final product after you’ve toiled over it for months.
Shelly: I completely agree. I love being able to see our work come to life, from the first ideas of an app concept to a downloadable, tangible final product that so many people get to use and enjoy.
Roberto: Surpassing expectations is also a great one. I think we all expect to deliver what the client wants but when you go above and beyond, and the client tells you – that’s great fuel.
Shelly: Especially when you hear the words “I love it.” It’s nice seeing how passionate clients are about their ideas and how excited they are about what you’ve managed to create by working together, especially when the deliverables exceed their expectations. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of bringing someone else’s goals or dreams to life.
Shelly: You have to have a broad range of interests and a willingness to learn. Good designers are open to new things and different perspectives.
Roberto: I agree. You need to be able to draw from many interests.
Shelly: You need to understand people. A great UX designer has empathy for the people who are going to use the product. After all, UX design is all about people and their emotions and motivators. Even when it comes to the design process, you need to know how to read people. A lot of really great breakthroughs come from reading between the lines and understanding the unspoken wants of the client. At the end of the day, the role of a UX designer is to collaborate and assist clients to create the best app experience possible for their target audience, no matter the app concept or idea.
UX design is dynamic, and the UX requirements for a product will evolve, especially as new technologies develop and user feedback is received. An app’s design needs to be refreshed continually as an app grows and changes.
Making a business case for UX design is how brands will persevere in today’s tech-driven society. It’s never been more important to ensure customers, users, and clients have a positive experience and interactions with digital content. UX design should be considered a bottom-line investment.