Confessions of a UI/UX Designer

Product design in today’s world is based solely upon what has become known as the User Experience. To create memorable, engaging experiences for a user to keep using the product is the prime focus of every digital agency. Any website, app, or e-commerce portal becomes successful if and only if it provides a simple yet engaging and rewarding user interface.

How big should be the header? What colours should be used? Is the typeface readable? Are the hyperlinks placed at an appropriate distance? These are some of the questions that a UX/UI designer ponders constantly while designing a particular product. Though they may seem trivial to the untrained eye, but to a designer, attending to such details becomes imperative if the project has to taste any kind of success.

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One of our clients wanted text boxes to be added within a User Profile page so the user can add all their social media account details or hyperlinks before submitting the form. Now there are countless social media platforms currently functions and each just as popular as the other. In order to incorporate all of them into the design would mar the web page’s elegant UI flow. Even worse, immediately presenting the user with a whole host of text boxes that he or she has to fill would induce a sense of resistance and inertia. So we considered this problem for a while, discussed alternate methods with the client, and came up with a viable, elegant solution: Add social media icons, which would present a text box when clicked upon for the user to add their details. It would keep the design minimal and a user would not be discouraged when he sees icons instead of the many text boxes.

Clients will put their demands on the table- that’s what they are there for. It for us to figure out how to make things happen. Problem solving can make any designer anxious, but it is also the most exciting part of our job. Every designer would quote “Simplicity is the key to a lasting design”; however, there are times when a client requirement really makes things hazardous for a designer’s mental capacity; it would make us concentrate so hard that we would end up with a permanent frown on our face.

Most clients already have what they want in their mind or through reference sites. They would present us with a list of reference website – out of which there would be a few favourites as well – for us to go through while designing their website. Indeed, reference websites are useful; it gives us a clear idea of what the client wants. A proper layout and wireframes can be developed quickly inspired by those websites. Minor changes can be handled during the development process.

What we look for in a reference website when we begin the initial process of designing is the mood of the website. If you want your customers to be in high spirits when they leave your website, then use bright colours that are on the warm scale of the colour wheel. Or do you want them to be pensive and brooding as after reading an Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, then you are welcome to use dark sombre colours from the colour wheel- it would have its own artistic merits. But, here comes the big question, does it solve your purpose? Does your website generate the amount of sales you had predicted?

The answer lies in a deeper understanding of your targeted audience. To make a product attractive to the right segment of users, one has to first know that user segment. Only after a thorough understanding of that user segment and its behaviour patterns can you possibly figure out ways to dangle your product in front of them so they would bite.

UX/UI designers constantly battle with such predicaments – to include all of the clients’ requirements or follow design principles. Guess who wins? Even so good designers would make use of what they have been given or what they are forced to use into something memorable or exotic.

The reference websites all have varied ways of dealing with a user’s attention spans. Some guide them step by step through their website, some present them with easy ways to navigate themselves. We look for such patterns as well while studying a reference website. After studying, a brainstorming session brings forth the many reasonable ways to catch a user’s attention and divert it to where we want. We ask ourselves then: Which way would be most suitable to our client?

However, before beginning the design of wireframes or mock-ups, we generate a mood, board. Considering the product and client requirements, it is easy to pick a vision for any project: To make the customer feel delighted when he or she makes a purchase, and so forth. Once the mood of the user experience is decided upon when begin looking for easy and simple techniques to get a user accustomed to an experience quickly and efficiently. Once these problems are solved, an elegant layout begins to take form in our mood boards. And the designing process kicks off.

Finally, with the help of a neat mock-up or wireframe, we then present our web or app design to the client for feedback. Proper documentation is involved as well to inform the client that all their requirements have been incorporated in the design as well as how the various problems that had presented themselves during this process were tackled. Documentation also helps while a design goes into production stage (developers would go crazy without this). Therefore, it is highly advisable to keep the functionality of the User Interface and Experience – and later changes – documented.

And even after the product is launched the design process doesn’t stop there. Exposure to the outside world, to actual users, gives valuable feedback for future versions and better product design. Indeed, any design that has not been iterated based on feedback from the user will always remain a flawed design.

Yet once the client approves all initial designs and the actual development process commences, it gives every designer a very satisfying feeling.

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