Photoshop is Just the Beginning

Starting UX Design

After years of favoring pragmatic, banal solutions over more avant garde ones, the tech industry has started to hold design as a preeminent focus. Smartphones have redefined mobility design, and HTML5 and CSS3 have enabled designers to get increasingly more creative with web design. Quality designers are in demand more than ever. As employment opportunities and salaries increase, designers are coming from a range disciplines are trying their hand at User Experience design. Additionally, as a younger generation has increasing power in the workplace, they bring new skills to rethink the clunky products of past decades.

Some key questions emerge with the UX design hype. What does it require to become a good user experience designer? Is knowing how to compose sexy graphics in Photoshop enough to design a product? Is having technical background essential for UX designers? What is the importance of collaboration and iterative design?

The ability to produce sexy graphics does not make a UX designer. Unlike graphic design where success is based solely on the users visual interpretation, UX design requires an increased level of user conscious and contextual approaches. Both graphic designers and UX designers use graphics tools such as photoshop to manifest their ideas into images, but for UX designers photoshop is just the beginning of where the product is being visualized in an ideal way. Until engineers successfully build the product, design is always highly iterative. During the concept design phase, UX designers have to be especially responsive to the feedback from users and developers. For enterprise products, the consideration of the client is also crucial. Budgets, deadlines and management issues are key players as well.

UX designers do not necessarily need programming skills, but these skills enable designers to be more thorough in the design process. For example, in mobile design if the designer is creating a product that runs on all platforms (iOS, HTML, Android), it would be more effective when the designer knows what the developers are capable of building. Entities such as the Deboss Effect of the text takes more effort to achieve in iOS or Android but is simple to code in CSS. Knowing what is Xcode or the difference between Java and JavaScript helps UX designers better to communicate with developers as well as understand the technical constrains. The lack of technical knowledge directly impacts the agility of design and hinders the pace of production.

As technology rapidly evolves, UX designers constantly find themselves having to keep up with the new trends. Numerous digital tools allow designers plenty of options to accomplish more efficiency and possibility. However, for most of times the best way to form and articulate ideas in UX design is just simply through sketching.

“What is to be sought in designs for the display of information is the clear portrayal of complexity. Not the complication of the simple; rather the task of the designer is to give visual access to the subtle and the difficult – that is, revelation of the complex.” - Edward Tufte