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User experience (UX) design is a discipline that’s in increasingly higher demand, but there’s still a lot of confusion about what it means. If a User interface (UI) designer is interested in making an app or product as aesthetically pleasing as possible, a UX designer is tasked with making it as functional as possible. When a UX designer does their job right, no one will ever know they did their job at all. After all, the navigation process usually only stands out when it fails us.

Getting in the Head of Your Users
Practicing good UX is as much about psychology as it is about technical execution or advertising. A UX designer’s primary objective is to know what their users want before they do. Popular dating app Tinder, for instance, boils down UX to its core: swipe right for yes, left for no. The need for complicated menus are stripped out almost entirely, and the simple binary format of answers translates well regardless of language or culture.

When working on a product that’s designed with the needs of a broad audience in mind, the ability to translate a universal experience around the world is essential, but more technical UX choices require diving into the specifics of how a narrow group of users thinks and more directly define the problem and solution. This is typically accomplished by creating user personas that help you more readily define specific use cases and then to conduct tests and interviews with people who best reflect those users.

User Stories
With the data available of who your users are and what their needs are, you can start to define user stories. User stories are attempts to identify problems users might face, and they can be defined both from first-person experiences with prospective users and the design of existing, competing products. But it should be stated in the words of these prospective users.

Charting Your Road Map
Once the nature of the people who will be using your product and the problems you need to solve are available, you can start charting what your app will look like. This means breaking down all the menus and submenus you’ll need and making them as streamlined as possible. It will also mean figuring out how to onboard your customers on your product as naturally and quickly as you can and figuring out the navigational functions for how you navigate between menus.

The masses may not understand UX design, but it’s a fascinating field that demands an understanding of design essentials, the ability to think in technical terms, and a sense of what it is users need.