A few days ago, I watched a webinar hosted by a design company on the basics of user experience during my lunch break. As a user experience designer, I am always curious about how other designers frame the definition of UX. It is a term that describes the process of designing, organizing, testing, and analyzing interfaces to make them better for users. However, recently the term has become subject to a wide variety of interpretations. While I let my freshly microwaved pot pie cool off, I went into observer mode and sipped some virtual tea in the corner of the webinar classroom.
The talk began with a breakdown of basic UX terminology and then stated that UX design is all about putting on your best customer hat to predict how users feel when they interact with your app or website.
I spat out my virtual tea and shouted “you are not your user!” in the direction of my muted laptop.
It is good practice to empathize with your user, but without any research to support your speculations, your designs are just that: speculation. Research is key to the art of UX, which one might argue is less of an art and mostly a science. It’s not a practice of whimsy and feelings, but rather a discipline that requires skill and dedication to process.
You can analyze app usability, sketch out wireframes, and test the functionality of visual prototypes without user research, but how do you know your user will enjoy their experience if you don’t really know your user?
Don’t skip the research phase
I’ve heard many business owners and developers explain how they know everything they need to know about their users. They come looking for UX help and then ask to skip the research phase. They always want to jump to the visual designs. They think their app just needs a cleaner user interface or a cooler on-boarding screen, but when I dig in, I find workflow errors so massive that no one should tolerate them. Putting a sleek UI (user interface) on a dysfunctional application is like putting lipstick on a pig. Actually, it is worse, because pigs are pretty cute.
Without proper user research, UX designers don’t have the data they need to do their job well. Research isn’t asking a set of biased questions to fit your business motivations, such as inviting…