Last month I participated in a SheSays “Women in UX” panel discussion with Elizabeth Benker and Jennifer Chiang at the amazing Grindspaces in downtown Chicago. There were over 115 women that participated in an open discussion on what UX means (it’s more elusive than you think!) and the realities of practicing it in your client work. Each panelist was asked to answer a series of questions about their work as it related to UX, so I thought I’d share my answers here to give a bit more insight into the UX work we do here at Mightybytes!
What is user experience design, and why do creative agencies need to embrace it?
UX design is putting the user and their feelings about the interface design first. That means thinking about how a visitor to your site (or application) will act when they get there, what their actions might be, and how the experience will be perceived by that user.
Creative agencies need to embrace this, for one, because visitor attention span is short; the time they are willing to give your site (or app, or system) is limited. I blend usability into my UX thinking. If it’s not easy to use, or visitors can’t find what they are looking for within a short period of time, they will move on and find another place to get the information they are looking for. Embracing the needs of the user in your designs ensures that they have an optimal experience and find what they need in a pleasant way. This ultimately satisfies your clients’ business goals — and happy clients are repeat clients.
Is UX Design a product or a process? Is it an individual role or a collaborative team approach?
All of that! It’s a process because we are always thinking about the user and UX is the products & tools we use. The user’s wants and needs are infused into the tools we use to craft the best experiences for them.
Sometimes UX is brought into projects too late in the game. How do you make UX a standard practice early in the creative process?
At Mightybytes we think of UX first and foremost. We start the conversation with our clients talking not about what the site will look like, but what they want their visitors to accomplish on the site. We talk to them about what the pain points of the current site are.
What are the tools you use on a day-to-day basis in UX?
I consistently use wireframing. I am often the designer on the site/app and so for me this can be an amazing tool that speeds up time spent on design. I am also involved in A/B testing and we use Optimizley for that. I also think about style guides and pattern libraries while I am designing and often create those during the front end coding portion of my process.
A Handy UX Tools List
- Balsalmiq – wireframing
- SlickPlan – sitemap tool
- Treejack – Information Architecture Proving Tool
- Optimal Sort – Card sorting tool
- Bootstrap – fast prototyping or hi fidelity wireframing
- Paper prototyping (this links to a great Pinterest board with printables for using in paper prototyping)
The team at Mightybytes has compiled a super handy list of UX tools online, too. Check out Super Lean List.
Pattern Library Samples
- A List Apart pattern library
- MailChimp pattern library
- Code for America styles
- Starbucks style guide
- Patterns for iOS
Are you a woman in the creative field in Chicago? Think about getting involved in the Chicago chapter of SheSays, a global network of creatives for women!