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February 13
User Experience Design - Why It Is Important To ALL Projects

User Experience Design (hereby referred to as UXD) is a vital concept that is often forgotten about when creating, designing, and implementing a website. What is UXD? Why is it so important? Why should I be thinking about UXD when creating proposals? Many individuals do not recognize the importance of UXD and planning a project around it. It is often looked over because of budget restrictions. Below are answers to the questions proposed as well as ways to incorporate UXD principles into the smallest budget.

1. What is UXD? User Experience Design is enhancing user satisfaction by improving the ease of use and pleasure provided between the website and the user. This definition is why I say that UXD is often an afterthought. The user is often forgotten about during the architecture, design, and implementation phases for many reasons, but mainly because of creative and budget restrictions or harsh deadlines that don’t allow for planning. There are still ways to put the users' needs first without breaking the bank.

2. Why is UXD important to a project? There are many reasons why UXD is important, but the main reason is that projects should revolve around this concept. UXD encompasses everything from learning about what the client wants, to implementing the website.

3. Why should I be thinking about UXD when approaching clients with proposals? Keeping the overall experience of what the client has envisioned is important. If a client envisions their website functioning like the Death Star, but when it is delivered, it functions more like a Sand Crawler, they are going to be highly disappointed. Setting expectations up front that fit within the budget of a client is vital so the client is not expecting more or less than what is intended.

Many projects have strict budget considerations with no room for flexibility. UXD can be combined into many different aspects of the project from creating taxonomies to implementation. Of course, it is always important to have a road map already in place when beginning a project. If that plan does not include time for focus groups, surveys, or even interviews with stakeholders, employees, or users, there are still ways that UXD can be incorporated into other parts of the project. One way to do this is to use pre-developed personas. Although these types of personas may not reflect every detail and opinion a user may have, they can help the designer and project manager see general requirements easily. This allows everyone to focus on more specific aspects of design and implementation.

Another way to incorporate UXD during the creative design process would be doing preliminary sketches with pencil and paper (these can take mere minutes to develop but can save a lot of hours if done correctly) can allow a client to see how their site would be potentially laid out without even opening a software program. .

One last way incorporate UXD without taking up a lot of time is to show users and stakeholders a variety of websites and have them rate them on a scale of 1-10 (hate it to love it) then have them make comments on a few that they like. This can help the information architect and designer begin planning so there is a point of reference as to what the client likes.

There are many great websites with a ton of information that further explain UXD, its importance, and why it is a fundamental part of the design process.

http://www.nngroup.com/  - Nielsen Norman Group

http://www.usability.gov/ - Usability.gov

Lindsey Eom is a Senior Consultant and User Interface Designer for Protiviti. She loves all things UXD and is currently in a Master’s program at Kent State University to learn more about her passion.
Lindsey.eom@protiviti.com​

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