User Experience: Not Just Sitemaps and Wireframes
Working within user experience (UX) can mean many things to many people, which inevitably can cause some confusion, especially for those who are new to our discipline. Very often, we are seen as the creators of sitemaps and wireframes, but UX is much more than those two (albeit, very important) deliverables.
Let’s look at the two words that make up “UX” to get a better understanding of all that encompasses a full-service UX team:
“That a user should not be kept waiting unnecessarily is an obvious and humane design principle. It is also humane not to hurry a user; the more general principle is: Users should set the pace of an interaction.” — Jef Raskin
The user is the reason for our discipline. In order to have any interaction at all, we must first understand the people who make up our audience and what their wants and needs are. That way we can get them to our digital property on the device of their choice while providing them with the content they need when they need it.
To help understand the user, some of the UX team responsibilities include: user interviews, surveys, card-sorting exercises, heuristic analyses, competitive analyses and content analyses.
By completing these tasks, we begin to build an understanding of who the user truly is at the same time humbly reminding ourselves that, even with all our expertise, we are not the end-user.
"What makes people passionate, pure and simple, is great experiences. If they have great experience with your product and they have great experiences with your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand; they’re going to be committed to it. That’s how you build that kind of commitment." — Jesse James Garrett
The learnings we established prior to building the site — tied in with those from other teams, such as planning, creative, analytics, social media and search — allow us to fully craft the experience for the audience. To accomplish this, the UX team builds the aforementioned sitemaps and wireframes, but also creates user flows and prototypes and verifies with the user through usability testing.
By completing these deliverables, we build the foundation for a successful digital property that will continue to be enhanced once it goes live based on how the audience uses it.
User experience should never be considered just a part of the process or a box that is checked off in the project plan. Instead, it is a viable component of the product lifecycle that continues to evolve with user needs.