What is the role of a UX designer?

Talk by Jay Al Hashal  @objectivejay

diagram of the role of a UX designer

Today, Jay Al Hashal talked to the class about the role of a UX designer. The Designer is a storyteller. These days stories are transmedial. We consume messages, each others stories from each other, in person, from our phones, the Internet, etc. So many different devices, but the Law of the Closest Screen applies. Our intentions don’t change, but our devices do. We want to check our email whether we use a desktop device or a phone. Our expectations of devices, “smart” devices grow higher everyday. What are those mobile sites that don’t perform up to our expectations but a waste of time?

Humanist Design Strategy The design process is about designing, prototyping, measuring and analyzing. One of the big differences between design and art is that design is calculated. Human-Computer Interactions (HCI) is a measurable topic full of studies and recommendations for best user-centered practices. Humans are mostly the same and we can make websites fairly accessible based on human limitations. See Fitt’s Law which is the model that describes how long it takes to point at something. See Behaviorism, the psychological system of reinforcement, which states essentially, if a behavior is reinforced it will become habit. Consider the User and their Goals. You can positively reinforce something by some nice design element popping up when the user does something right, perhaps something turning a bright green. You can also play on their fear of missing out (FOMO) by providing interesting and changing content. Will you guide the user through with clearly marked interface or let them be guided through with emotion and intuition. See Tiny Wings.

Making vs Prototyping

Prototyping As said above, it’s important to cycle through. Hashal said “If your concept is never evolving, you are not pushing it hard enough.” Whether it’s in your team or with your own analytics, it’s important to be able to draw conclusions about how effective your experience design is at getting the user’s goals accomplished. Transitions are important. Despite its disembodiment (it’s just a screen, you can make anything) the greatest designs are metaphors (they utilize schema) for something that people already understand and know how to use. How does this object move in space? Be consistent. Do not swipe and dismiss and check through and flip. People will understand your product as one thing. Pick that thing.

Making You have your idea. Sometimes, it’s not about having the best design, but implementing a good design. As a designer, you must be able to play politics, be able to sell your design. “Well… the user will like it,” is one of the best things you can say at a meeting. But you have to mean it. Have reasons for your decisions and it helps to use something like Google analytics to gather data about how users are engaging your design. When you are testing it, always do A/B testing. Have two designs (at least). Be a scientist, have a control and a variable to show that this specific design choice is more effective that current practices and that it’s valuable to change. Small changes are necessary instead of an overhaul redesign. Sites that generate business are like cities, you can’t shut it down because people work and live there.

Lessons from Mobile Firstdesign for the mobile options, the considering the real estate, usability, etc.

  1. Reduce and Organize. Be efficient, if you don’t need it in your mobile site, you probably– but not always– don’t need it in your desktop.
  2. Forgive. Users are curious. Sometimes they will delete something that they didn’t want deleted. Don’t punish them for it. Have a way out, a way to retrieve, a simple undo step.
  3. Contextualization. Fancy word for step into their shoes. Gather information about the user’s environment. If they are the train conductor who has to engage with this design while in a moving car, navigating dark narrow corridors, be sensitive to that. Make the buttons big or glow in the dark or something.
  4. Reinforce. Things should change appearance to show change. Ease the use, store their data so they don’t have to type it in all the time.
  5. Disappear. Great design becomes invisible. It seems like the most natural way to do it. Have design that is easy as moving a part of your own body or as close as possible.


Supplemental Reading:

Client Interaction

What is UX, links, topics, diagrams by Smashing Magazine


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