BBC Sounds: What is UX design?

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One of the first things I needed to do further research into was UX design. UX stands for User Experience and so the design of User Experience is what this particular project is about. In a way this relates back to our Design thinking modules quite nicely. UX design is the process of creative products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.

As a website designer, I’ve always had to think about how something visually looks and feels to use. Usually when setting up a website I often started with writing down the pages that will be needed, how many, what order the user would likely want to visit them and how important these pages were. Much of this falls under the category of UI design or user interface design.

In most cases up to this point, I would likely do this based off research on similar brands to my client, analysis of what is popular already to implement this into our own website. A lot of the time websites I made were imitations or inspirations of other websites, and more often than not clients did not want to experiment with something new.

As a designer and someone who frequently uses various websites, there’s a reason why I might choose a website such as Reddit to browse my news over a site like the Daily Mail. In this example, I prefer to have my news sources from multiple places and have a discussion about the news whilst reading or watching it. For my needs as a user trying to find news, Reddit meets my needs to a greater degree than just delivering the news.

In an article on the Interaction design foundation website, a lot of the core concepts of UX design are explained. The term User Experience was coined by Don Norman, who said;

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”

– Don Norman

UX design is user-centered. There is a feedback loop built into the design of products which UX is used for. In the image below we can see similarities to design thinking methodology within UX design;

Interaction Design Foundation – UX design

Similar to Design Thinking methodology, the first stage of UX design is always understanding the problem and how the user currently solves it (Understanding the Context of Use). For example, if we look at BBC sounds, the problem would be that the user has missed a live streamed podcast, and wants to catch up on this. It might be something they regularly listen into, so as a designer I need to make sure it’s easy for them to find.

At this stage we understand how the user is using the application and for what purpose, this is then converted to specific requirements which can be implemented as solutions. Once a solution has been built, they are evaluated among peers and potential customers to get feedback on what works and what can be changed.

The evaluation against the requirements of a product designed in UX will often go through many iterations till there is a mutual agreement that the experience is good for the user. One thing to consider is that UX is always changing, especially when talking about UX within web and app development where the trends often, this is usually to match design choices put forward by Apple and Google in their documentation.

In a way having companies like Apple and Google recommend UI and UX changes helps a lot as designing the app can be done quicker if there are some guidelines set for design elements which often take a long time to choose. So UX design isn’t about the look of a product or service as much as it is about the feel of the product or service.


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