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What is UXD?

I always find it difficult explaining what I do as a UX Designer to my friends, family and sometimes even co-workers. At parties, with relatives and with the odd customs official I often fall back to ‘I design how websites work’, but that is an incomplete definition and understates my real suite of skills. In the same way plumbers don’t just unblock toilets, and being an electrician is far more technical than changing lightbulbs, UX designers do far more than sketch out where a button should appear on a web page.


UX Design is studying user behaviour and understanding user motivations with the goal of designing better digital experiences.


Balancing business requirements

While focusing on user needs it is also important for a UX Designer to be aware of balancing business goals with technology constraints (or opportunities). While it is true that a product cannot succeed without a healthy business, a business cannot succeed without a happy customer — and it is the UX Designer’s job to be the customer advocate.

Customers don’t often get invited to meetings, so don’t be afraid to speak up on their behalf.


The UXD Pyramid

With such a broad and varied definition it can be difficult to find ways to benchmark or measure User Experience. The UXD Pyramid is an excellent framework for categorising UX Deffort and tracking progress. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the base of the UXD Pyramid lays the foundation with fundamentals (breathing, in Maslow’s case), before advancing to higher, more enriching user experiences.


Levels 1 to 3 of the Pyramid concentrate on a user’s ability to achieve a desired task. Can they use the system to achieve a beneficial outcome?

Levels 4 to 6 go on to focus on the user’s experiences while using the product or service. Do they enjoy using it? Does it make their life better?

Many budget-focused businesses only see value in achieving up to level 3, thereby missing out on improved customer loyalty, customer advocacy, customer spend and many other incredibly beneficial outcomes that stem from an engaged customer.

Level 1: Functional

Level 2: Reliable

Level 3: Usable

Level 4: Convenient

Level 5: Pleasurable

Level 6: Meaningful


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