UX, being User Experience, seems to be the buzz word of the moment, but for good reason. Someone who works in a UX role (UX designer, UX writer, UX developer, etc.) specialises in ensuring a user’s experience of a particular digital product is the best one possible. But what exactly does this entail?
We sat down with Localsearch’s Lead UX-UI Designer, Rieze Rothmann, to find out what a UX-UI designer does, the benefits her role has to businesses and how she got into this innovative style of web design.
What does a UX Designer do?
As Localsearch’s Lead UX-UI Designer, Rieze works on optimising both Localsearch’s internal web-based products, as well as those we provide to Australian businesses. It also requires her to work with Localsearch’s developers, UX content writers and quality assurance testers to provide the best possible outcome.
Some of the Localsearch products she’s worked on include localsearch.com.au and the Localsearch App, the Nucleus all-in-one reporting dashboard, report emails and more.
What she does as a UX designer in a day depends on the product she’s working on and the workflow stages of other team members. Her day can include being in scoping meetings to collaborate on new features or products, creating framework for these, designing mock-ups, communicating with other team members and more.
How does UX design benefit businesses?
- Better user experience of a website or product means higher client satisfaction. This then can influence higher conversion and retention rates.
- Consistent branding creates trust and familiarity in your brand.
- Good design can influence search engine optimisation, which is how you optimise your website and online presence to influence your position on search engine results.
- Design-optimised websites can also lower the cost of your paid ads, if other elements are also following best practices.
- UX design helps reduce development costs as all the planning has been done before physical work on a product or website build has even begun.
There are obviously many more benefits, but these are some of the top ways what a UX designer does impacts businesses.
Some of what a UX designer does in a day:
Collaborating on new features and products.
UX is all about creating a product or feature with the user experience being the focal point. This includes looking into button placement, text size, image placement, the flow of how the user engages with the product and more.
To do this, it requires thorough planning, with all angles of usability thought through. As a UX Designer, Rieze is involved in this initial planning, working with stakeholders, customer support angles, developers, writers, testers and more. All bring a unique insight into a customer’s journey and how the product can support this easier.
Mocking up products and features.
An important stage of UX design is the mock-up phase, including architectures, wireframing and high-fidelity mock-ups. These mock-ups allow all involved to see how the ideation looks and works before building. Doing so helps everyone be able to make relevant changes to further improve the user experience.
As a UX designer, Rieze uses specific programs to create functional mock-ups, allowing for as real visualisation as possible. It also includes sourcing imagery and assets, like graphics and fonts.
UI/UX writing and technical specifications.
UX designers are unique to standard web designers as they tend to work hand-in-hand with writers and developers, rather than being just a step in the pipeline. This creates uniformity and alignment from all angles of the project.
While working with writers for the product or feature, Rieze writes up documentation of specifications for the product to be executed fully. These notes help other teams know how their role may influence other parts of the design process.
Communicating with stakeholders, developers, QA, writers, SEO specialists and more.
As mentioned UX roles work differently as it’s a collaborative project, rather than a standard pipeline moving through the stages. It requires almost constant communication with other working roles of a project to accommodate for allowances from all aspects.
One major example of this is how design influences search engine optimisation. Designers, particularly UX designers, have to be aware how image optimisation, layout of content, heading structure, browser optimisation and more influence the overall success of a website. Some design features may also create unnecessary code, so it becomes a conversation of whether the feature provides true value to the user or if it can be sacrificed for potentially better rankings.
Other areas UX designers have to be wary of is ensuring a UX writer has enough space to communicate a message correctly and development features are possible and optimal.
Performing post-launch analysis of products for further optimisation.
The job of a UX designer is never done, even once the product or feature is live. While data and knowledge can get UX roles to a certain point, nothing beats the feedback of the actual users.
Once a product is live, UX designers, like Rieze, take the feedback and assess where the functionality or design of a product or feature can be adapted. This data also gets used for future releases, so documentation of the feedback is also important.
Becoming a UX Designer
Rieze Rothmann originally hails from Pretoria in South Africa, acquiring her Bachelor of Arts in Interaction Design in Cape Town, before migrating to Australia in 2017. However, it wasn’t an immediate decision, despite her love of everything creative.
After school, Rieze knew she wanted to become a designer, but wasn’t sure what type. Web designer, graphic designer, UX designer, animation designer, product designer — the list of types of designers is endless. She wanted to use her love of painting, drawing, crafting and upcycling almost anything around her home, but also use her love of technology and data too.
So, Rieze took a year off of formal learning to shadow different design roles to find what suited her best. Now knowing there was a way to unite her creative and analytic passions in one design role, Rieze enrolled in a BA in Interaction Design at the Cape Town Creative Academy.
The rest is history as she graduated and migrated to Australia to use her skills at Localsearch, first as a UX-UI designer and now as the Lead UX-UI Designer. As well as her day-to-day role, she also mentors Localsearch’s other designers in how to implement usability into all designs across the business.
Tips for Becoming a UX Designer in Australia
1. Know when to ‘kill your darlings’.
Part of being a UX designer means taking feedback on and adapting the design. This means sometimes having to scrap designs.
Rieze says one of her lecturers gave her some of the most valuable advice she’s ever received of being able to ‘kill your darlings’. It refers to being able to not let pride get in the way of the best possible result. You have to get used to receiving constructive (and not-so constructive) feedback, and how to use that for the greater good.
2. Ignite your inspiration every day.
UX design means keeping up to date with the latest design trends and research. You’ll want to subscribe to design newsletters, social media accounts and explore new products, websites and features every day. This helps keep your brain in the habit of growing, learning and adapting.
3. Be prepared for change.
The speed of how technology, therefore design, is changing seems to get faster every day. Rieze says it’s so important for UX designers to be keeping up with it and not get stuck in the habit of using templates or what has worked in the past.
While old data can be handy, treat every project like it’s completely new. See where data and old techniques may fit, but explore where new trends can help you and your designs grow.
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