USER EXPERIENCE – as the basis of web design.

The spectrum of design methodologies is getting wider and wider. The popularity of user experience in the industry is growing worldwide, yet it is a concept that is quite often confused and not understood properly. But what really is user experience and what is its importance in web design?

To better understand this concept, I want to go to the definition of the word design, which is really widely understood. They have one thing in common: it is for people („Design is for people”). Don Norman, in his book Design of Everyday, writes:

„Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”

As he presents further, most designers design for themselves, trying to solve their own problems. Indeed, the real user doesn’t know anything about current trends, doesn’t want to know how to choose the correct typefaces in a design, instead they want a product that works and that they can use.

In the 1980s, Don Norman assumed that a human being was to be at the center of the design process. „Human-centered design points, on the one hand, to the functional nature of the design process, the design result is to be easy to use whether it is a product, service, communication or any other area of design work, and, on the other hand, to the emotional conditioning of humans and their relationship to the above-mentioned areas of design work… and the guiding principle of human-centered design is to be the trouble-free use of products by users.”

Human centered design (HCD) is a certain „framework” that can be applied to business strategies, and it assumes a human perspective that is taken into account in each stage of design – from diagnosing the problem to the creation of the finished product. In the process, observations and conclusions arise from research and direct contact with the user, which does not involve blindly implementing users’ whims, but looking for patterns of behavior and causes of problems. This concept has its roots in ancient ergonomics, Hippocrates described how to design a surgeon’s workspace. This consists of the lighting in the room, the placement of the surgeon – „the surgeon can stand or sit, in a position that is comfortable for him” – and the placement of instruments; „They must be positioned in such a way that they do not impede the surgeon’s work and, when required, are within easy reach.”  

Reaching a little closer, in 1940 Toyota used Human-Centered-Production principles in its daily work. They aimed to improve employee productivity by creating the right work environment. An extremely important part of the user experience story is the book Designing for People, written by Dreyfuss Henry. In it, the designer explores the topic of human experience in relation to a successful product. He concludes that the frictional force that appears between a product and a person is a clear sign of a failure on the part of the designer. However, if the product makes people feel comfortable, making them more willing to buy it, then this can be described as a success. With HCD we have the opportunity in the process to meet the real needs of users and find solutions that will be beneficial and enjoyable as much for the business as for the users. 
Donald A. Norman is considered the founder of the term user experience design. The Nielsen Norman Group, a U.S. consulting firm cited as an authority on the subject, now defines the field as

wszystkie aspekty interakcji użytkownika podczas korzystania z usług i produktów

Google defines it as the user experience that is associated with a website or mobile application. And it’s true, user experience is most associated with the new technology industry and interactive product design.

As I mentioned above, research, observation and direct contact with the user are the basis of user experience. This is described quite clearly by Iga Mościchowska and Barbara Rogoś-Turek in their book Research as the Basis of UX. They emphasize the 3 most important features of a product: usability, attractiveness and providing positive emotions during use. According to them, what will make a product have a good user experience?  

„It is no longer enough for an application to provide certain functions. It has to be easy to use, fast, it has to evoke positive emotions easily.”

Nielsen Norman Group also agrees, saying in reference to usability:

„On the Web, usability is necessary condition for survival. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer users’ key questions, they leave”.

What does user experience mean in web design? „User experience is desired, needed and liked – it is a product that is above all interactive. It makes the interaction between the site and the user as easy and comfortable as possible. Web services and mobile applications have become part of our daily lives, and everyone has probably experienced using a „bad product” at some point. If, when using an application, a user is unable to find the information he or she needs at a given moment, it will cause irritation, which will result in abandonment of the product. User experience definitely helps to avoid such situations. If the goal of our service or application is to provide information or increase business profits, we cannot marginalize user experience.

As we can observe, now it is no longer enough to have just a beautiful product that provides the needed functions. In the same way, a designer is not just a graphic designer either, in such an ordinary sense. He has to be ready for challenges and for learning new things. UX designer in the process combines: psychology, business analysis, communication, graphic design, ethics, sociology, research, must know about consumer behavior, data management and much more. This direction of design is still developing, different methods of project management are emerging, but I recognize 3 main streams in user exprerience: research, prototyping and testing, where each of them includes even more elements. Well-designed UX in a project can reduce costs (e.g., by taking unnecessary features out of the application) and in a sense reduce risks, which are always present, unfortunately. It can be said that user experience serves as a filter in the design cycle, which can remove unnecessary elements, as well as help find features that are a perfect fit for our user.

Lida Lukashuk