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What is UX Design?

The term “UX” gets thrown around a lot when talking about website design, but what does it actually mean and what are the implications of designing for UX?


“UX” stands for “User eXperience” and in web design it refers to the entirety of the visitor’s engagement with the website, from search to completion. UX Design, therefore, dictates a contextual approach to all aspects of the design process, with particular focus on meeting the needs of the customer without fuss or bother.


According to Jakob Nielsen, one of the founders of the Nielsen Norman Group, True UX goes beyond just meeting a customer’s needs; it should involve a seamless merging of many disciplines, including marketing, interface design, graphics, architecture, business analysis, and software engineering.

It is also important to distinguish the user experience (UX) from the user interface (UI) even though the UI is the most visible part of the design process. For example, even if the UI for a website is visually perfect, if the content is not relevant to the visitor then the UX will be poor. Similarly, if the website cannot be found by potential customers then it matters little if the UI is good or not.


Usability is another term that is often confused with UX, but it refers to the usability of the UI, whereas UX is a broader, more encompassing term. Here at Devs Melbourne, we refer to designing for the complete UX as “Contextual Development”.


Contextual Development

Developing a website for a client involves far more than making a design that looks attractive. Every client is unique and has different business needs, so the first step is understanding what that business does and how the website fits into an overall business strategy. This might involve alignment with corporate colours and branding, integration with existing social media outlets, or even, in some cases, ensuring the ‘look and feel’ of the site fits with traditional printed material, and is consistent with the voice or tone of the business.

Contextual development starts with understanding our client’s brief, and then digging a little deeper so that we get an understanding of their business strategy. One of the key questions we ask is: how does your website fit into your long term plan for success? Sometimes the site is merely a digital calling card, a classic corporate website with the standard Home - About - Contact pages. Often the website plays a far more central role in the business strategy, and this is particularly true in a COVID and even post-COVID world. More and more business is conducted solely online, with no physical interaction whatsoever, and providing a relevant, compelling and frictionless user experience is critical to success in this environment.

So UX design fits neatly into our contextual development approach by ensuring we stay focused on meeting the client’s business objectives by understanding and fulfilling their customer’s objectives. UX design also provides many visual and psychological principles that underpin the use of colour, contrast, and layout. We’ll explore many of these principles, such as the Von Restorff effect and Jakob’s Law in our upcoming blogs.

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