Dustin Tanner / Design / July 16th, 2014

The Role of a UX Designer at 352 – We Don't Dream, We Do

Over the past few years, the term “UX Designer” has gained popularity and unfortunately some negative connotations. Some people believe that UX designers “don’t really do anything.” They assume we conceptualize and hypothesize all day. While that may be true for some people calling themselves UX designers, that is certainly not the case at 352. Here, UX designers are a core part of our process and contribute greatly to almost all of our projects. To elaborate, here are some of the tasks carried out by myself and the other designers on our UX team.

Some people believe that the title UX designer shouldn’t exist and that we should be called “Product Designers.” Having done both, I believe there is a distinction between UX and product design. UX designers design experiences around an existing product while product designers design new products or features. Sure, these two roles overlap a lot, but they are different.

Research

We dive into each new project by learning as much as we can about it. We study the brand, the product(s), the company and, most importantly, the current or potential users. We ask questions and listen in order to identify and gain a deep understanding of the problem we will be solving.

Branding

If the company/product we’re working with doesn’t have an established brand, we create one. We create logos, choose brand colors and fonts, design icons, produce photography and more to establish a memorable brand that serves as the foundation for the project.

Concepts, Wireframes and User Flows

Once we understand our goals through research, we begin creating paper sketches, digital wireframes and detailed user flows. These allow us to better visualize our concepts then collaborate and iterate on these until we believe we have a solution worth testing.

Prototyping

This is crucial step that saves us, and our clients, a lot of time during the design and development stages. We use tools like InVision, Keynote, Axure and even HTML/CSS coding to create interactive prototypes. We use the prototypes to clearly demonstrate our proposed solution to our clients and for conducting usability testing.

User Testing

We conduct extensive user testing in an attempt prove our hypotheses. This includes writing and deploying surveys, recruiting live testers to interact with our prototypes and recording their experiences. We collect and analyze the resulting data and use it to improve our solution. This process repeats until we, and the client, are confident in moving forward.

Visual Design

This is what most people probably think of when imagining a designer’s role. We use applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch to create the designs that will become the actual website or application. Layout, typography, forms, buttons and more are all drawn around the content to create an appealing and pleasant experience for the user.

Code

We write HTML, CSS, JavaScript and more that bring our visual designs to life. On the more technical side, we use LESS, Angular and GitHub. We also work closely with our backend development teams to connect our front-end development with the server-side programming.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of what we do on Team UX here at 352 Inc. We believe that user experience design includes anything the user sees or interacts with, from research to code.

Image credit: Rayi Christian W 

  • Jennifer Fix

    Great overview, Dustin! I think I speak for all of the 352 teams when I say we love our UX team. No one should develop online customer experiences without engaging UX early and often.

  • http://www.pixelsontoast.net david evans

    Hi, thanks for the post, great validation of the processes I follow myself. I am curious to know what your relationship is with the development team at 352 and how you collaborate on each project. I sit as the only UX resource within a dev team which has its challenges…