Most of us just turn on our computer or mobile device and never really think about the effort that went into how we interact with those systems. Turns out, there is an entire professional discipline that revolves around designing the best conceivable look and feel a user can have with a wide variety of software products. That knowledge base is developed within the study of data science.

User experience (UX) design is the method a design team uses to create products that give users meaningful and relevant experiences. UX design involves the entire process – from product design, function, usability, branding, service, and integration. UX involves the way things work, and UX design aligns with customer expectations. It ensures things flow in a natural, intuitive order as they seek answers to questions they have.

Interdependent on UX design is user interface (UI) design. This involves the interaction a user has with mobile applications, computer systems and software. UI involves the way things look – it makes the flow easy. It encompasses consistent visual design, clean interfaces, smooth user experience, and related elements. If the UI design is done well, the user can interact with the software or application easily and have control of the interface.

UX/UI designers keep track of trends, and they take heed of emerging movements in multiple and diverse industries. This willingness to learn from other industries fosters innovation and provides new perspectives on user expectations and needs.

The ultimate goal for good UX/UI design is to be invisible. This is when the product can be used so effortlessly that people don’t even notice it was designed to work that way. When product design is not the best, that’s when people who are not involved in design can discern that the design is not good.

It is generally a goal of product designers to design for simplicity, making mass adoption an agreeable process. Product designers are advocates for the customer experience. It is their job to understand the needs of a customer. They ensure the user experience is relevant and intuitive, flexible and comfortable. An easy adoption is important to workflows involving onboarding. The new user knows they are following the same path that others at the company have taken.

However, there are times when friction is purposely built in. For instance, sometimes an application makes you aware of the finality of a decision you are about to make. Think about all the times software has asked you, “Are you sure you want to delete?”  

As software companies explore future business models, their business strategy rolls up to other corporate initiatives. Consumer focused priorities will need to include the quest to combine the best conceivable user experience with the best possible user interface. Software users will continue to benefit from evolving look and functions that are relevant, intuitive, flexible, and comfortable.

Tune in to season 4, episode 11 of The AEC Disruptors to hear from Lego Master Randall Wilson about the intricacies of user experience and user interface design.

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