My passion is user experience design and the production of user interface aesthetics. I am driven by user experiences which helps me to develop an intuitive interface design.
I definitely do both, and I enjoy doing the user interface aesthetics once I am happy with the prototype and user experience. Once that is done, then I focus on layout and create the visual art assets. I take a practical approach. When done properly both are enjoyable.
When I started in web development in the early years I focused on the website logic using paper mockups. From what I can recall 16 years ago the terminology for UX never existed. That term was later coined by Don Norman while he was Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple. In his own words: “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow."
Back then we simply called it web development or graphical interface design. It isn't until much later that terms such as UX, UI, IA, IxD came to be. As I kept focusing on the entire product as a whole my primary concern was how the product feels. My goal has always been to deliver a great experience from the flow and feel, getting the user to where they need to be in a quick intuitive design. If they have a great experience, they’re more likely to come back. If my design confuses the user as they try to navigate through the product then they will likely not come back and may not spend on your product.
Creating the user interface design prior to figuring out the prototype is a painful process and makes creating the visual interface a none enjoyable experience. Once the prototype through tools such as Adobe XD is fleshed out with user testing we can proceed with the asset creation to really make the product sing. Without focusing on user experience design prior to user interface creation you are really putting the product at risk for failure.
As is found on Wikipedia “User experience design (UXD, UED or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. User experience design encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.”
If you are like me you wanted to develop user experiences for various studios and the only way to do that was to learn and improve user interface aesthetics, motion graphics, including learning how to code and adapting to the studio's needs. Things have changed a lot over the years with new terminology separating UX, UI, IA, IxD so it's time to catch up with these terms.
User Experience Design: UX
User experience design (UX, UXD, UED or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.
User Interface Design: UI
Author and founder of Adaptive Path — a user experience consultancy, Jesse James Garrett, defines interface design as being all about selecting the right interface elements — like text, buttons, text fields, color-coded lists, etc — for the task the user is trying to accomplish and arranging them on the screen in a way that will be readily understood and easily used. The goal is to make the user’s interaction as efficient and simple as possible.
Information Architecture: IA
Information architecture (IA) involves the way a website/app is structured and how the content is organized. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks. “In other words, information architecture is the creation of a structure for a website, application, or another project, that allows us to understand where we are as users, and where the information we want is in relation to our position. Information architecture results in the creation of site maps, hierarchies, categorizations, navigation, and metadata. When a content strategist begins separating content and dividing it into categories, she is practicing information architecture. When a designer sketches a top-level menu to help users understand where they are on a site, he is also practicing information architecture”- from uxbooth.com
Interaction Design: IxD
“Interaction Design (IxD) defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction Designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond. Our practices are evolving with the world.”- from ixda.org
Is it possible to do all of these on any given project? Yes, it definitely is. There are many overlaps. At times the UX won't change until you do the UI and are inspired by new solutions that the UI presented to the UX. This goes with interaction design as the device you are developing for will determine how you do both UI & UX.
For example, on a mobile device the call to action, button styles, states changes, among many other variables will be developed completely different than sitting at a desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse or navigating through your favorite game console.
Prior to working on a new product I always ask these three questions. What will the product be used on? What genre/style is it set in? What is the goal?
Answering all three questions will determine how everything is done for UX, UI, IA, IxD as a whole for the product.
Thanks for reading!