Caveat: the following is some quick musings on a question brought up by one of the integrators on our team. This was my quick response to him and our team.
The question was:
“Do you guys think that visual design and UX are very different things? Like as in good user experience goes beyond the GUI and goes deep into interaction and proper software architecture.”
Visual Design is just a fraction of User Experience
In my opinion User Experience to me is made up of:
- Visual Design – this is primarily graphical design… Choosing the right colors and proper use of layout, typography, and iconography
- Interaction Design – this is primarily the use of motion and interactivity applied at discreet moments in an experience.
- Information Architecture Design – this is the thoughtful implementation of a user experience holistically. It’s the culmination of multiple small interactions pulled together into an experience that is complimentary with each individual user experience.
- Usability – this is the study of what works and what doesn’t work. It’s where the psychology of the user shines through and effects decision making based on analytics of human behavior.
- Knowledge of Trends and Fads – some things you choose to do because its what is cool at the moment and the only way to be relevant.
- Creative / Aesthetic Design – I still think this is separate from visual design because creativity isn’t necessarily visual. It takes all these aspects together to create an innovative pleasing experience.
A good flow for good user experience design is:
Step 1: A user research gathers information about a problem that needs to be solved.
Step 2: An information architect creates a good flow through the experience based on prior knowledge of good information design.
Step 3: An interaction designer brainstorms with the IA and proposes and prototypes individual discreet experiences that fit into the information design.
Step 4: A graphical designer applies aesthetic principals to the experience.
Step 5: Usability testing is employed to verify decisions and based on findings changes are made to the aspects of design that show any weaknesses.
I think as integrators it means we have to be good at all of these steps. And our big value add is that we have a unique perspective of the world because we can think of ways to creatively leverage the platform functionality. The platform is our Legos that we understand better than most IAs and designers.
Granted, this is a simplification of a very complex process. We are constantly exploring new processes and methodologies for making a team of different disciplines effective.
Please comment on this post if you are passionate about this subject and feel like there are any missing disciplines and tasks that are elemental in good user experience design. Im sure I missed tons.