Monday, May 7, 2018
Amanda Olson, Senior UX Designer

When people ask me what I do, I often struggle to decide exactly what I want to say. Should I have this figured out by now? I probably should. My official title is Senior UX Designer, and the UX stands for User Experience. But most people don’t know what that means and it’s okay if you don’t either. Really, my title should be Keeper of the Acronyms, because there are so many in this line of work. CTA, SASS, RGB... I could go on and on.

I’ll start by telling you what I don’t do, and that’s interior design. For the longest time, my dad thought I was creating room designs and painting walls. We could say I plan and decorate your online home.

UX design is the practice of creating an experience that’s seamless and enjoyable for the user. When a user experience is good, you shouldn’t even notice it. If the UX is bad, you will most definitely notice it.

At the same time, our goal is to help our stakeholders meet their objectives. Stakeholders (in this case, our clients) want people to click and go to their websites, sign up for their email lists, and ultimately make a purchase. These actions are called conversions. We help create an experience that inspires the audience to do just that — seek out more info, explore, and buy.

What I love about this role is that it’s a perfect combo of right-brain and left-brain activities. I relish in the creative aspect of my work and the art of producing websites and digital products that are beautiful and on-brand. At the end of the day, our job is to capture attention and compel action. Good creative does that.

Not to be left out, the technical aspects of this position also satisfy my left-brain tendencies. I love data, coding, strategy, and analyzing stats to know if our efforts are driving positive results. You might find it no surprise then that here at Swanson Russell, we have a few key steps in our digital process to set every project up for success.

Meeting of the Minds

You know that visual where most of the iceberg is below the water’s surface? Strategy is like that. For every project, a great amount of thinking and planning goes in to thoroughly problem solve for the challenge at hand. This is the part that most people don’t see, but is so crucial for a project’s success. We want to come up with the best possible solution to reach the objectives set in front of us. Like the iceberg, this phase ensures that the creative we produce is effective.

Mapping it Out

I think it’s a common perception that designers jump right into Photoshop and start creating a masterpiece. There’s actually yet another step that happens before we dive in and start creating said masterpiece. We build wireframes, which are kind of like a blueprint. Sometimes they’re also compared to a skeleton, the frame that holds everything up.

Making it Pretty

If wireframes are a skeleton, the design is the skin. Now, I think all of these steps are fun, but the design phase really is the fun part. It’s why I got into this career field in the first place, and what drives me every single day. What I love about being on the SR team is that we all have the common goal of creating the best work possible. We’re all in this together, pushing for great art.

Build So They Can Come

Development is when the design comes to life and is built out in the form of a website, email, or digital ad. This is where code comes in. Not only should the developed product look good, but it should function well. If things are buggy or clunky, the user is going to feel it. And we don’t want that.

Test, Adjust, Repeat

A digital experience should be a living, breathing thing — changing and adapting. How do we do this? We test, adjust, and repeat. This ensures that our experiences are always optimized and performing as best as possible. You might be surprised that even the smallest details can make a huge impact when it comes to user experience. For example, a call to action can impact whether the user clicks to learn more or not.

Always Learning

The digital landscape is changing every day. It’s one of my favorite things about this career. But it’s also a challenge. We’re always learning and looking for what’s on the horizon. At Swanson Russell, it’s a priority for us to stay educated and constantly in-the-know of new trends, upcoming obstacles, and changes in the industry.

So the next time someone tells you they’re a UX Designer, you can say, “Hey, I know what you do! Tell me about your wireframing process.” They’ll be shocked, I promise. Be prepared to facilitate the conversation from there to ease the UX designer out of their speechless stupor.