If you’re involved with the web in any capacity, you’ve probably heard the term “user experience (UX) design.” It has become an essential element for any successful website. It can often be misunderstood, though, as “UX” can refer to different things, depending on the context.
The general term “the user experience” refers to every touch point a person has with a company or site—to the experience as a whole. However, the field of UX design tends to be more focused, because the user experience designer primarily works on research, planning, organization of site content and user testing.
UX design has existed in some form for almost as long as the web has existed. Designers (and the companies that hire them) have always wanted their websites to be useful and enjoyable. However, we made assumptions about what our users wanted, and a lot of times we got it wrong. We needed to establish best practices and find ways to test our theories.
Over the past decade or so, we have done just that, and UX design has grown tremendously. UX designers are in high demand. Our testing and organization tools are maturing, and you can find best practice research on the smallest details.
At USGBC, we work very hard to make sure we are putting our community’s needs first, so our web team is always looking for the latest UX research and tools. Currently, we are excited to start using InVision Studio. The tool has not yet been released to the general public, but it promises to help streamline the design and prototype process. This, in turn, will help us create more effective information architecture and make user testing more efficient, so we can make sure new digital product and feature launches delight our community right from the start.
Here are a few of our other favorite UX design resources:
- The best UX book, in my opinion, is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It’s a quick read that goes over UX essentials and user testing, which he highly encourages.
- Norman Nielsonessentially writes the standards for UX. If I am looking for research, it’s the first place I go.
- Smashing Magazine is also a great resource. Their UX collection really gets into the nitty-gritty, and I have found it extremely helpful.
- Alistapart is an invaluable resource for all things design and dev from the godfather of web standards, Jeffrey Zeldman.
- General Assembly provides classes and workshops from some of the industry’s best.
- User Interface Engineering is another great place to read up on the latest UX research.