What is UX?

UX: user experience design

UX is the all-encompassing experience of a user as they interact with a product or service to achieve a goal. 

User experience design is the process of applying a user-centered design approach to understanding and meeting the needs of users with an experience that’s both usable and delightful. 

UX designers are problem-solvers for products, business, content, behaviors, and especially for—you guessed it—people.

UX: user experience design

How is UX different from graphic design?

UX design is different from both UI and graphic design in that it focuses on the logic and structure of the elements you actually see and interact with. UX designers typically deliver wireframes, prototypes, site maps, flows, and other UX artifacts to the UI team.

The UX design process

The UX design process serves as a framework that enables a designer to define a problem, ideate potential solutions for that problem, and validate the solutions they create. There are many process frameworks in the world, but we’ve found the Stanford d.school model is ideal for introducing UX to our designers.

  • Empathize

    The designer looks at the landscape surrounding the problem by understanding it from as many perspectives as possible.

  • ​Define

    The designer pulls insights from research to define the specific problem and challenge to solve for, and who to design for.

  • ​Ideate

    Once the problem is identified, the designer’s goal is to “go wide” with concepts and outcomes, generating many ideas—good, bad, silly, or impossible—that can be prioritized and explored further.

  • ​Prototype

    This stage sees the narrowing down from many solutions to one; the goal isn’t to get it perfect, but make it graspable by others. The prototype allows the designer to identify potential pain points, considerations, and areas of improvement.

  • ​Test

    The designer gathers observations and feedback to design something truly thoughtful on every front, and purposeful for their audience.

The UX design process
Sarah Young

“Attending Designation essentially equipped me with a toolbox that I’ve been able to pull from for any project or task I’ve faced in my career as a designer. The sheer number of tools and methodologies I was exposed to during my time there has been invaluable.”

Sarah YoungSenior UX Designer, T. Rowe Price

Deliverables by UX designers at Designation

Mythili Gopikanth

“As someone who really wanted to break into the UX consulting world, Designation played a crucial role in not only teaching me the hard technical skills that were needed on the job, but more importantly the soft skills that are needed in a client facing/collaborative environment. The work I did with real clients and the obstacles I faced along the way ultimately prepared me to deal with unexpected curveballs that get thrown my way on the job.”

Mythili GopikanthUX Designer, PwC Experience Center

UX design success stories

At Designation, UX designers grow their skills to design for the everyday experiences of products and apps, always keeping the human factor top-of-mind. As professionals, with their design process in place, they’re ready to solve problems great and small.

Zoë Sinner

Zoë Sinner

Product Designer at Facebook

“Designation broadened my fundamentals and taught me the skills to help solve design problems. And more importantly, it taught me to be a confident designer. All of these things I use in my current job.”

Read Zoë’s Interview
Katarina Lauritano

Katarina Lauritano

User Experience Designer at SapientRazorfish

“Aside from the obvious practical skills and theory that I learned and now use every day, it gave me confidence in my abilities through the opportunity to work with real clients.”

Read Katarina’s Interview
Ji Su Hiatt

Ji Su Hiatt

Service Designer at Capital One

“Anyone can learn about the fundamentals of design in other settings. But at Designation we were given a chance to actually apply these principles in projects, which helped us learn to speak intelligently about design.”

Read Ji Su’s Interview
Taylor Dohmeier

“The portfolio of work I compiled while at Designation is reflective of user-centric, agile methodologies and really made the interview process smooth in terms of being able to describe my experience solving user and design issues based on research and user feedback.”

Taylor DohmeierUX Designer, BetterView

Frequently asked questions about UX

  • When does a designer select UX or UI as their area of focus?

    In Week 5 of Design Essentials. By that point, every designer is exposed to principles and practices of UX and UI, and has enough information about their skills and interest in both areas to choose one. Additionally, the mandatory one-on-one with the DE instructor helps provide external perspective on the decision.

  • Can a designer complete both the UX and UI tracks of the program?

    We allow designers to finish the Virtual Phase in one track and redo it in the other track before moving on to the Immersion Phase. But this repeat costs an additional $4,000 beyond our program fees, and the designer is moved to the subsequent cohort. These phases must be done back-to-back, and the switch from one track to the other is irreversible—if a designer starts in the UI track but switches to the UX track, for example, they’re required to complete the rest of the program in the UX track. This also means the full program takes 30 weeks to complete, not 24.

    The Immersion, Client, and Career Phases are not repeatable.

  • How do UX designers in the program gain UI skills, or vice versa, after Design Essentials?

    A surprising amount of knowledge about the other track is gained through the process of file handoff. This happens in the professional design world every day, as specialist designers in different areas work together on the same team, so it happens on every project at Designation. UX designers are taught how to hand off their deliverables—especially wireframes—to UI designers, who often pick up their work and continue it. In doing so, they learn how to prepare for the UI design stage. Similarly, when UI designers receive a handed-off wireframe from which to design, they learn a lot about the UX design process.

    In addition, designers from both tracks meet weekly for a peer feedback session where they provide objective, thoughtful critique of others’ work, regardless of their track. This activity helps them analyze design work at a deeper level and improve their own in various ways. Finally, graduates are given the opportunity to study the other track’s curriculum after they finish their own portfolios; this encourages them to more actively become a design generalist and be competitive for a wider range of careers.

Take the leap

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