20 ways UX designers can help your business & how to spot a real one

I wasn’t planning on writing this article but I stumbled upon a discussion on Quorra where a person asked what are some great UX designers in a specific country? Being a UX designer, I thought I’d share my insights since the only other answer was pointing to UI / visual designers. Twenty minutes later I realized it became to long and I better just write a post on, two hours later I had this lengthy article.

Originally published and featured on LinkedIn Pulse

So why I wrote this?

Well to be honest, I’ve faced a lot of people not knowing what UX designers actually do and I noticed it’s a common problem with designers to shift towards “buzz-words”, in a nut-shell most web designers or mobile designers realized it’s the hottest thing and they self proclaimed themselves as UX designers over night.

UX is not about visual design, that’s the first rule any UX designer can tell you, it’s about problem solving.

How do you spot a real UX designer?

  1. They show wire-frames, sketches as visual design is not something that they are required to do, that’s the job of other departments.
  2. If they do visual design then they don’t show you only the visuals, they show you the things mentioned above.
  3. They show the most important thing which is the process ( research, data gathering, prototyping,etc ) showing what went behind the final product, proving that data was involved in the process.
  4. They don’t use the title UI UX designer if they handle both visual and ux design, attention on the word UI in front, showing they do visual design first then UX, when it should be the other way around and as architects say form follows functions.
  5. They use the title UX UI designer ( UX word in front ) if they handle both visual design and user experience
  6. They can also use the term User Experience Designer & Visual Designer or UX designer & Visual designer if they handle both the visual and the user experience part.
  7. They show the problems they’ve solved proving it’s not made up

What is the difference between UI designers, Web designers, Visual Designers & UX?

  • UI designers: handle user interface design, this means mobile apps, web applications, car dashboard designs and so on.
  • Visual designers: are kinda the same thing as UI designers, there are some differences but they aren’t relevant for this discussion.
  • Web designers: only handle simple websites, presentation websites, not e-commerce designs or web applications, there are some rare exceptions where they can also handle complex apps.
  • UX designers: they solve problems or are the brains behind the visual stuff you see on a website, they prototype, solve problems and makes things feel intuitive. I like to think that if a website makes users feel overwhelmed or make users think more then 10 seconds about where some things are or what should they do, then that’s a bad example of user experience design.

Find out more about the difference by visiting this link Industry Breakdown: UX vs UI vs IxD vs Visual vs Product Designers

How can UX designers help your products ?

  1. they make signups and checkouts faster, resulting in a lower rate of user abandonment while also making things intuitive so people don’t have to think about what to do. This translates to not redirecting users to the
  2. they prioritize features so users don’t have to think where certain features are, resulting in a more productive app for your users
  3. they make things feel natural especially on mobile, smart watches or tablets by taking into consideration the users familiarity with the industry, what actions are your users accustomed to based on your competitors while also testing different layouts and gestures to create a solution that feel natural and intuitive for your users
  4. they ensure your customers don’t get confused leading to leaving your website by ensuring layouts and interactions are similar across other market websites or apps, thus keeping user familiarity with the product even if they shift from a competitor
  5. they find a lot of relevant information about your users so you can tailor your content towards them leading to more sales, signups or whatever your goal is.
  6. they make your product better by identifying problems you didn’t think existed by interviewing users and understanding their pain when using your product, building a better product and building a loyal user base
  7. they eliminate guess work by appropriately grouping products or features with the help of card sorting, reducing the need for users to search or think that you don’t offer that service leading to loss in sales
  8. they choose the best approach by using wire-frames and prototyping to quickly test different decisions, thus not having to launch a product and then realize it’s a nightmare for you and your users thus saving you a lot of money
  9. they validate your product or their own decisions, by having actual data that shows why they did this and why it’s better thus eliminating guess work or any preconceived ideas that you might have
  10. they help envision how your product would solve niche problems before it’s even launched, pitching your story better to investors, by using storyboards to show how it would work and how it would solve core market problems
  11. they will make your customers love you and come back, building brand loyalty by keeping things easy to use, without having them to think how this works
  12. if they have product design skills they can propose new features that would generate revenue or solve problems leading to an increase in sales and users.
  13. if they have visual design skills they can make your product ship faster, by tackling both the UI and UX at the same time so instead of refining or creating high-fidelity wire-frames they create the visual design and test upon that, further refining it as things go along. This has the added benefit of spending more time with the product and fixing other UX issues that they may have missed as well as validate the design direction within the user interviews, ensuring the aesthetic is also tailored to your audience age group or industry experience.
  14. if they have SEO skills they make identifying categories even more relevant like finding niche specific keywords that would help better group products in the card sorting phase, making it easy for your customers to find specific products. They also better understand who will be coming to your website based on the keywords they search which further helps refine your content to your audience. They take into consideration page load as a critical factor, since it’s a ranking factor in Google search, proposing layouts that load fast and generate traffic.
  15. they can reduce costs by identifying if your users are actually using mobile and if it’s worth the extra development time and costs by using analytic tools to identify where your users are coming from and what device they are using to browse your website.
  16. they can optimize your website to drive more clicks if they have conversions knowledge
  17. they can ensure your users don’t feel lost, by making it a seamless and connected experience so they will always know where to go or click, reducing the chance of not making a sale
  18. if they are familiar with on-boarding they can introduce users to your complex features naturally without headaches, especially if they have a natural tendency for ideation ( envisioning complex ideas into simple sketches, steps ) making your users understand your product while also making them feel at home and not signup and never come back.
  19. if they are familiar with the wonderful world of Gamification they can drive user interactions, user engagement, user retention and make them come back. What does all this mean? it makes people have a purpose of using your product on a daily basis and not just at work or from time to time, making it social and a fun place that they want to be (wink wink at you Facebook )
  20. if they are passionate about technology they can make your product unique, if you let them since wonderful things happen when you create a product that’s both intuitive and easy to use, while keeping user interactions at the minimum with the help of technology. See my Facebook smart watch app concept showing UX and interaction design principles blended with technology by clicking here

Now that you know how we can help, it’s time to know which UX role is right for you or your company ?

As with any complex profession User experience is segmented into smaller roles, this is especially visible at large companies where they have multiple products and collaboration between departments is needed to ship product faster.

UX is made out of four big fields, these don’t include visual design , product design, motion design as they are their own niches. They are closely tied and have a big impact on the UX, however when talking about UX we talk about:

  • Research & data gathering
  • Information architecture
  • Interaction design
  • Usability

Currently there are three main roles that are quite popular on job boards and company websites, these are:

1. UX designer: this is the main category that most people are familiar with and it includes all the fields, including the two mentioned below. In most cases you will need a UX designer to help you with your product since it implies the UX designer to handle either everything from start to finish or just certain aspects based on your goal, which is really helpful for small teams, single products or products that aren’t too complex offering a great ROI.

2. UX researchers: is a specialized field within the UX field and it involves data gathering, lab work, research about users, patterns, usability testing, eye tracking, creating personas and so on. They are the guys that find out user information such as if users scroll all the way down the page, only midway and so on.

3. Interaction Designer: is also a specialized field within the UX field and it involves taking the data gathered and using storyboards, wire-framing, data to come up with solutions to interface problems as well as design flows and so on. In a nut-shell everything a user clicks or touches and the resulting action (drop-down, pop-up, redirecting users to a page, etc), it doesn’t involve animations !

Interaction design doesn’t mean making animations, that’s motion design, it involves designing the way the user interacts with the product like using gestures to make things easier or prototyping a product and see how it would work, how screens are connected, etc

So is it worth hiring one?

It depends, if you are a single person or have a small company with less then 5 people probably not, if you are mid sized or large company then definitely yes, the benefits are far to many to be neglected.

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