Ever wondered what a UX designer is and why you may need their services? This handy guide has all the info about this important web development position.
Good website development is part of what keeps this fast-paced, interconnected world running. And it’s especially important for businesses — a poorly designed or glitchy site full of dead links is a surefire way to drive away customers. UX designers can help.
UX stands for “user experience,” and as the name suggests, a UX designer’s main focus is using design to create a frictionless experience for users. With empathy, multiple iterations, and the help of prototypes and wireframes, UX designers help set the foundation for how a community interacts with your product.
What is UX design? 🧑💻
User experience design describes a specialization in the interactive aspects of a website or page. UX design focuses on the products or services being offered and the various ways in which consumers might interact with these offerings. UX designers are front-end engineers who combine design, digital marketing, and psychology expertise to provide an intuitive and directed browsing experience.
You’ll often see UX and UI used together. But a user interface (UI) designer is much more involved in visual design — pulling on graphic design, typography, and color theory to create a coherent and consistent look and attitude for a brand across multiple digital platforms and venues.
The main difference between UI and UX design is the end goal: UI designers focus on looks, while UX designers focus on the experience. If you see an Independent who calls themselves a UX/UI designer, they have the skill set to cover both roles on the design team.
What is a UX designer? 🤔
From the very beginning to the very end, a UX designer follows a user’s journey to understand their behavior and how they interact with a product. They use testing to gauge the success of each iteration until they’ve ensured the user gets where they need to go.
UX design is closely related to product design, but again, the key differences lie in each role’s end goals. Product designers draw on many of the same skills as UX designers, but the business’ goals are their primary driver. In UX design, it’s the user’s goals that fuel the design.
What does a UX designer do? 👥
UX designers pull skills from a number of different disciplines. They need to understand psychology, marketing, and design, but they also rely on a deep understanding of coding, wireframing, and visual communication.
When a UX designer works in conjunction with a UI designer, the two will collaborate on the visual aspects of a company or brand. The UX designer takes the UI designer’s ideas and converts them into an easily navigable web page.
The UX design process can help you:
- Conduct UX research. A UX designer learns about target users in the form of user research interviews, user-persona creation, and testing. They also research market competitors to see what works for them.
- Define problems. UX designers identify potential issues associated with a desired website function, and they use their expert knowledge and problem-solving skills to offer solutions. With enough information from the client or UI designer, a UX designer can offer advice before the coding even starts.
- Design and test user flow. A UX designer is skilled in anticipating user needs and ensuring accessibility to all end users. Usability testing ensures smooth user flows on a site.
- Minimize dropoff. When a user experiences a roadblock and gives up before completing a task or interacting with a feature, this is known as dropoff. A UX designer works to create an experience that allows users to complete a task with as few pain points as possible.
- Iterate and strategize. UX designers can use their research findings and expertise to offer suggestions for new and upgraded features and processes.
Why should you hire a UX designer? 💼
An Independent UX designer uses their knowledge of user experiences across different products to empathize with a target user to determine where certain features live within your product and how those users will get there. The better the experience, the more likely your audience will be to recommend your product to others.
If creating a near-frictionless experience isn’t enough to convince you, here are some other reasons to consider outsourcing an Independent UX designer:
- Design with empathy. Because UX designers rely heavily on a user’s interactions with a product, they’ll design for different edge cases to ensure the user doesn’t hit any roadblocks during their journey.
- Learning every step of the way. Every single individual will interact with your product differently, even if they’re all in the same target audience. A UX designer will help you understand how and why these interactions should inform your product development.
- Lead users to new features. Have a feature that’s not getting enough attention? UX designers can help you understand why users aren’t using a particular feature, and they’re resourceful enough to find a way to get the users to interact.
When to source a freelance UX designer ⏰
If you’ve ever been disappointed by the community’s response to the release of new products or features, an Independent UX designer’s expertise can help you identify and address the problem so you can build the traffic you need to move your product forward 🏃
- The user’s journey. From wireframing to prototyping, an Independent UX designer will provide a new lens backed by research and analysis to take you through a user’s journey.
- Give every feature a home. When production is happening left and right, it’s common for some features and functions to get lost in translation. To ensure that your product’s features aren’t being overlooked, an Independent UX designer uses IA (information architecture) to organize and sort all of the possible functions of your product.
- Understand and apply. To learn more about how users interact with your product, UX designers will conduct a series of user interviews and user testing sessions to better understand your audience and what they need. In turn, they’ll create features or experiences that help respond to those needs.
Start your journey with Contra 🌎
Contra’s easy-to-use, commission-free platform is the perfect place to start a UX design career. And if you’re a client, our Discover feed can help you find the perfect hire to help with your startup or rebrand. To learn more about how to work with an Independent, check out our Best Practices guide! 🌟
How to Hire a Remote Brand Designer by The Contrarian