UX for Beginners: Key Ideas

The best place to start any education is at the beginning — Joel Marsh

James Muriuki
Oct 17, 2019 · 4 min read
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About a week ago I was in a very frustrated state. I felt like my UX education was going nowhere and since I have the attention span of a cricket, I could not find myself finishing those 700+ pages in-depth UX books and I was almost giving up.

So I did what every millennial does when they get frustrated by a slight inconvenience. I went meme hunting on Instagram to burn time and distract myself from my existence. After 3 hours of my life not magically fixing itself (Obviously) I decided finally to try and figure it out.

“There has to be another way… right? Not every UX designer went through the fire to learn from these textbooks.” So I went on google and typed UX crash course, google being the supreme overload of most of my personal online information did not disappoint.

The first link I saw read:

UX for beginners a crash course in 100 short lessons

Yaaaaaaaaaas it hit all my buttons:

  1. UX — Duh.
  2. Crash course — So most definitely it will show me what I need to know when I need to know it without a long history lesson.
  3. 100 short lessons — Exactly what I need to the point data to get me up and running.
When I saw that book title.

So I went on to get it and since I love it so much I’m gonna share a brief summary of the different sections and what I have learned from them.

Key Ideas

What is UX

From what I knew prior to reading the book UXD (User experience design) main purpose was to create unique, desirable and intuitive solutions to user problems. Joel states that the sole purpose of a UX designer is to make the user as effective as possible in the task he/she is trying to accomplish. Everything else comes second. This changed my perspective about UX in a way because I tend to focus on the design (Pixels)rather than the usability (effectiveness) of the products I created during practice.

He broke down the UX design process into 3 key steps:

  1. Research to understand users.
  2. Developing ideas that solve both the user’s needs and business needs.
  3. Measuring the solutions in the real world to see if they work.

5 main Ingredients of UX

To prepare a Michelin star awarded User experience you need to consider 5 major things:

  1. User Psychology — The motivations, feelings, and subjective thoughts of the user.
  2. Product Usability — Making your solution incredibly simple to use.
  3. Product Design — Not how the product looks but how the product works.
  4. Product Copy — The messaging communicated on the platform and how it’s communicated.
  5. Analysis — The ability to test the effectiveness of the design.
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Sometimes I wish Chef Ramsey was my UX teacher.

It’s about perspective

The holy grail of UX is Empathy: Doing your research and understanding users to the point where their problem becomes your problem. You become so emotionally to the problem that when you stumble on a solution it excites you.

Remember these 2 main points:

  1. You want things that don’t matter to users.
  2. You know things that don’t matter to users.

When creating designs we create designs for people who know less than us and we need our designs to inform them of those items that they don’t know intuitively.

The 3 “whats” of the user perspective

Good design should communicate 3 major things:

— What the product is

The user has less information than us so our design should tell them in the simplest and direct way possible what the product is about. This can be done using a title and a contextual image.

— What the product can do for them

This is the why of the design. It communicates what the user gains from using the product. It’s easier to show the user this than to tell them. Using videos, example images, free trials.

User motivation > (Usability + beauty)

— What the user can do next

After the user understands what the product is and what it can do for them, your design should also communicate what to do next. Sign up, Purchase product, etc.

Solutions vs Ideas

UX design differs from other forms of design in one keyway. UX designers don’t come up with ideas that have meaning for themselves. Ideas generated are meaningful to the users. For that spending time understanding user's problems is essential.

The solutions generated for problems can also be wrong. And that is okay. Through constant testing with users validating your ideas can you create a truly meaningful product for them.

The UX Pyramid

Part of the job of a UX designer is to create value from a user's perspective. Focusing on tasks that add value is paramount. The book displays a UX pyramid with the tasks at the base being the ones that will make or break your product while the ones at the top being of minimal consequence.

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That's the summary of the information in the first 6 chapters. I really like this book and can’t wait to dive into the next section.

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