Generally speaking, when people hear the term “user experience” or “UX” they think of interacting with websites and/or applications. They’re not wrong. However, as the design industry continues to evolve, user experience has become so much more than that. Now, UX is a process that involves thorough discovery research, aesthetic and functional visual design, testing and validation, performance and analysis, and more.
What is UX Design?
Before we take a look at UX through the lens of an expert, we figured it would be helpful to provide some background information on the topic.
User experience design refers to the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and overall interaction between users and a product, system, or service. It encompasses a holistic approach that considers the entire user journey, from the initial interaction to the final experience.
A Proven Approach to UX Success
At Americaneagle.com, UX design involves a comprehensive approach and process that focuses on business needs and audience wants. Your solution is dependent on who you involve and what you discover, what you determine, how you define it, how your user understands it, how you draft it, how you examine it, and how you release it into the world. Americaneagle.com has developed a process that has proven to be successful and to deliver significant value to our clients.
The objective of the empathize phase is to create and use established empathy as a tool to drive the remaining phases of the process.
The objective of the define phase is to create alignment with the team and define the user’s problem for which you’re there to solve.
Ideate & Create
The objective of the ideate and create phase is to begin the initial stages of solutions that are focused on the user with initial setup, building blocks, and core strategy components.
The objective of the prototype phase is to simulate the end-user’s experience by creating prototypes, or preliminary models from which other forms are developed or copied.
Test & Validate
The object of the test and validate phase is to complete the final concept and present the evidence.
Develop & Repeat
The last step of the process is to continue to use what you’ve learned to ensure a cohesive and user-centered final product.
Insights from a UX Expert
Here at Americaneagle.com, UX is at the core of what we do. Below, we spoke to one of our UX experts, Danny Setiawan, Senior UX Architect, to learn more about why UX is so significant to a website’s (and a business’s) success.
How Danny Became a UX Expert
I’ve been doing UX for over two decades now. I studied graphic design in college and then went to grad school for multimedia which later led me to web design, and eventually UX. Initially, I was drawn to the visual aspect of it all – I enjoyed making things look good. Later on, I was introduced to Adobe Flash, a program that allowed you to make things interactive, and I fell in love with the concept. Interactive design allows you to take the user into account, figuring out what they like most and what’s going to help them the most.
How Does UX Design Contribute to Business Success
How UX contributes to a company’s success is really apparent when looking at the pandemic and how everyone moved to digital. These days, companies need to have a digital presence to be successful. There are so many websites and apps out there that are hard or even frustrating to use. So, how are companies going to make money if they’re making things hard or frustrating for their customers? They need to give customers value – and they have to make it easy for customers to receive the value. That’s where UX comes in.
Additionally, UX allows companies to protect users from themselves. It helps companies maintain their brand and reputation. Take Netflix, for example. The streaming company actively reminds users that they’re going to be charged for their subscriptions. By doing so, Netflix is showing its customers that it doesn’t want to take advantage of them and their money.
Important Skills for a UX Designer
The two skills a UX designer should possess, in my opinion, don’t fall within the traditional realm of design: they’re the ability to empathize and the ability ask questions.
Here at Americaneagle.com, we use a five-step design thinking process. The first and last step have to do with empathizing with the user. First, we empathize with the user to understand their needs and how the product we’re designing solves their needs. At the end of the design process, we’re also empathizing with the user by testing the solution, ensuring there are no biases in place, and that we’re solving the problem in a way that makes sense to the user.
Along the way, as designers, we need to work with different functions – developers, marketers, quality assurance, etc. We need to understand all of the stakeholders' needs as well as how the product we’re designing solves their needs. It’s not just empathizing with the end user. It’s empathizing with all of the people that touch the product throughout. UX designers need to ask questions about how the product fits into the bigger picture, and what’s actually feasible to build. We can’t deliver benefits to the user if the design is something that our developers aren’t able to create.
Mastering these two skills will allow designers to be successful in UX no matter which tools or technologies they’re using, and no matter how much the industry evolves.
UX Design Research Methods
The kind of research we do goes back to the design thinking process we use. Because we empathize to define users’ problems, we conduct a lot of surveys to quickly obtain a lot of data. This then allows us to identify the specific personas that we want to talk to, in order to understand any issues they face. From there, we typically do one-on-one interviews which vary from phone calls, video calls, in-person meetings, and sometimes a walkthrough of the product to get a deeper understanding of the problem we set out to solve.
UX Design Prototyping Tools
Most of the products we create now are using Graphical User Interface or (GUI), so we use Sketch with InVision.
Common Challenges UX Designers Face
One of the biggest challenges UX designers face is the ability to connect the dots between the UX design project and the business value of it. It can be difficult to convince stakeholders the value of a certain design or feature. For example, testing or research. When most people think of design they typically think of a pretty picture (like a button). But in order for us to get the pretty button to deliver business value, we need to figure out everything else in between such as the path users took to get to that button.
Successful UX Design Project
One of my most successful UX projects was actually years ago when I was just starting out. It was a production interface project and we were tasked with finding a way to allow multiple groups of users to work on PowerPoint presentation at the same time. It was a larger project so there were multiple teams working together including the research team to collect the data, the design team to design the template, the QA team to test it, etc. The project was pretty complicated so when it actually worked, I knew it was something I would remember accomplishing, especially as a new designer.
UX Design Inspiration
It depends on what I’m looking for, but I get most of my design inspiration online. If I’m looking for inspiration for visual design such as a dashboard, I’ll go on Dribbble. If I’m looking for an interaction pattern within a dashboard, such as how to allow users to customize it, then I’ll go search different websites. And lastly, if I’m looking for more general UX inspiration, I’ll go to YouTube and Medium.
Tips for Improving UX Design Process
The design process is the same at the core level, but the technology is constantly changing. I would say my top tip is to be open-minded about change and learn from the people around you as well as your juniors. One of the reasons why I love teaching UX courses is because I have the opportunity to learn from junior designers. They’re new and have that open-minded, beginner mindset.
UX Design Trends to Watch
One trend that we’re going to see really take off is mixed reality, or virtual reality and augmented reality. We’re already experiencing this with apps we use all the time – Snapchat and Instagram – but it’s going to get bigger and better. It’s going to be a game-changer because right now, we’re designing for just the rectangle. But soon, we’ll need to be designing for all different kinds of physical spaces.
UX Success Stories from Website Agency Americaneagle.com
Over the years, Americaneagle.com delivered UX success to customers across a variety of industries, some of which include distribution and manufacturing, healthcare, associations, ecommerce, government, and more.
Repair Clinic – Partnering to Leverage Digital for a Multi-Million Dollar Business
With over four million parts for appliances, lawnmowers, and furnaces, Repair Clinic needed to transform its digital brand and offerings with the expertise of Americaneagle.com. Repair Clinic came with a website that was plagued by poor UX. The site was severely impacted by a lack of product and service engagement as well as issues with conversion performance. Informed by data, we recreated the UX model that put Repair Clinic on a new, sustainable growth path that is exceeding business goals in all channels.
- Rescue of a previously poorly implemented solution
- Increased traffic and revenue through SEO, paid ads, and new website
- Implementation, and email marketing
- Conducted extensive UX activities to ensure positive user experiences with the brand
- Ongoing web development and hosting support
- Built and maintain a stable, scalable, and flexible technical architecture to accomplish future growth goals
- Multiple digital marketing initiatives
- Leveraging email marketing tools to their maximum to engage, interact, and retain users
- Maximizing pay-per-click (PPC) spending to ensure a very high rate of return
- Optimized SEO across the site through content, redirects, crawl enhancements, etc.
Rust-Oleum – Accelerating the Partnership Between Physical & Digital
Americanegle.com partnered with Rust-Oleum to significantly improve a UX that presented challenges throughout the entire user journey. In addition, an outdated system architecture prevented Rust-Oleum from successfully connecting with consumers. By implementing strategic UX concepts during a complete website redesign and re-platforming, along with reimagined web applications and integrations, the company solidified its ability to meet high customer expectations.
- Trusted digital partner for more than nine years
- Redesign and re-platforming of www.smartcoat.com
- Innovative SmartCOAT dynamic web application
- Integration of sales and field reps via the Sales Support Portal
- Trusted digital collaboration and releases
- Ongoing SmartCOAT updates and enhancements
Visit Rust-Oleum’s case study page to learn more about its UX project.
Partner with an Experienced Web Design & Digital Marketing Company
If you’re looking for a digital partner with extensive UX experience, look no further. By providing expert web design and digital marketing services, we’ve created thousands of enjoyable, intuitive, and unique experiences for customers in all industries. We consider site architecture, functionality, and front-end user needs to create seamless visitor journeys that deliver your brand’s intended message. Contact us today to get started.
Is your website difficult to use? Americaneagle.com also offers a UX review where we take a deep dive into the usability of your site and provide recommendations for improvement. Fill out our contact to talk to a strategist about user experience!