UX as a practice and the roles that make it up | Danny from InVision

Image by InVisionapp

Have you ever read or heard about “Invision”? Yes! InVision is the digital product design platform used to make the world’s best customer experiences. Also, InVision is a fully distributed company with employees in more than 20 countries around the world.

Long time ago, I subscribed to InVision ecourses about UX. By the way, I am 20 years old, currently studying undergraduate and thirst for knowledge. That’s why I learned from many parties. So, todays i want to share what i learned from Danny one of InVision Employee.

  • User experience designer
  • Visual designer
  • User experience architect
  • Information architect
  • User experience strategist
  • Interaction designer
  • Unicorn

Confused yet? That’s not even an exhaustive list. Confusion about which role does what isn’t helping the UX movement.

UX is the practice: strategy, user research, information architecture, and visual design make up each discipline. Titles follow suit, so there’s no confusion about who does what.

Image adapted from Scott Runkel

UX Strategy

For too long, most UX work has been reactive, meaning the project is usually well underway before UX practitioners engage. Or worse, they engage after a substantial financial investment on an already-launched product. Certain aspects of the app and startup cultures have aided in the groundswell to move UX earlier in the project, product, and company planning lifecycle. But more needs to be done.

This is where a UX strategist comes in. UX strategists are a natural complement to product strategists, marketing planners, brand strategists, and other more “typical” functions that define roadmaps and approaches to business and product definition.

UX artifacts and activities

  • Requirements
  • Scoping
  • Personas
  • Experience brief
  • UX requirements
  • Behavior goals
  • Journey maps
  • UX backlog

User research

If all UX practitioners and advocates vow to be relentless advocates for all users, then the user researcher is the actualization of this voice. After all, how can you create user-centered products without hearing from the user?

Without research, UX isn’t UX. If your company is delivering products without listening to users’ voices, they’re doing a great disservice to both the company and the users.

The core responsibility of a researcher is to engage with potential and actual users of a product in order to understand how they interact with the experience, and whether it works well or has opportunities to improve.

Information is gathered in support of assumptions or used to alter the experience towards what users are requesting. There are a number of research methodologies that can be employed depending on the type of feedback needed, the timeline, and the budget.

There are 2 ways to engage user research:

  • At the outset of the project to drive product strategy
  • After the product launches

UX artifacts and activities

  • Requirements
  • Test plans
  • Personas
  • User research: remote, lab, live (various methodologies and protocols)
  • Heuristic analysis
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Expert analysis
  • Time studies

Information architect

Information architects (IA) are part designer, part developer, part strategist. Information architects inherently drive order from chaos. Dig around in a workspace of an IA, and you’ll likely find pens and markers organized by color and various types of Post-it notes stacked just so. It’s fitting, as practitioners in this discipline use organizational tools such as site maps, user flows, and task flows and logical process thinking to organize experiences.

The role of the IA spans many disciplines and requires broad experience. As an IA works through business goals and requirements to define the structure of an experience, they have to understand design and hierarchy principles to appropriately structure the page. They also need to understand code to decipher how APIs and front-end technologies impact the experience. And they have to understand content to convey the intention of headlines, buttons, and other content areas.

The IA discipline is also usually responsible for the first visualization of what was previously only verbally discussed concepts outlined via strategy and requirements documents. It can be equally exciting and contentious as business and stakeholders are brought into initial reviews. IAs can avoid this by facilitating co-sketching sessions with the same audience. Through this process, sketching out the potential experience will allow a larger group to directly contribute and have more ownership in UX decisions.

IA artifacts are generally easier to implement than other disciplines because they can be derived as the most beneficial. It’s not uncommon for more traditionally focused design companies to be apprehensive towards design, as traditional designers misconstrue wireframes as taking away design control.

UX artifacts and activities

  • Requirements
  • Site maps
  • User flows
  • Task models
  • Sketching
  • Wireframes
  • Prototypes
  • Interaction specs

UX Visual Designer

This should be pretty self explanatory, right? Designers, well, design. They make things pretty and paint the walls, if you will.

This is a common generalization for an essential part of the process. Design is more than picking a font and imagery, or making everything look pretty. Applying solid design principles to an experience can be directly connected to the success or failure of it. Have you ever been using an application and there are 5 buttons with the same color applied, but one is submit and the rest are less important? Lack of hierarchy in conjunction with color theory causes confusion.

The basics of design include balance, harmony, hierarchy, and color theory. A designer’s tools include font families (weights and sizes), color, illustration, and imagery. Seemingly abstract principles to a non-practitioner but central to every decision a visual designer makes — and more pervasive in your life than you may realize.

Every color, line, button, and font of a well-designed application has reasoning, rationale, and hours of iteration behind it. All to make sure you don’t realize those decisions or why they were made.

Indeed visual designers labor over the differences between a 70% versus 80% black line. The former may not create a strong enough delineation between sections, but the latter is too strong and jumps off of the page. Balance between that line, whitespace, and other content on the screen must come together to create a harmonious experience.

Branding, logo creation, and art direction are additional design functions that come together to create a strong experience presence. Much like we’ve dispelled the myth that you can hire a single “UX person” to do 5 or more jobs, a UX visual designer may not be a brand creator or strong at creating logos. And they’re not likely to feel comfortable art directing a photo or video shoot.

Specialized experts within each of these design functions need to be activated based on your need. It wouldn’t make much business sense to invest in a strong UX approach for your new responsive website without supporting that with a compelling and relevant brand design and strategy.

Strong UX visual designers can, however, be responsible for interpreting brand direction as they design the application you’re launching.

UX artifacts and activities

  • Requirements
  • Visual design
  • Style guides
  • Design pattern libraries
  • Component kits

Collaboration

It’s impossible to address UX as a practice and the disciplines that make it up without talking about collaboration — it’s central to delivering products.

Breaking down silos and opening up experience development to all roles is frankly the only approach that will result in differentiated products. For example, just because a project is in the strategy phase doesn’t mean that the researcher or visual designer should be excluded.

Weekly or daily collaboration sessions are vital for all roles to share progress and review work at all stages.

Thank you very much Mr. Danny for useful knowledge. In this paper I only convey what he taught. I hope this can be useful for readers in general and certainly useful for me especially.

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Hi 👋 Here is Creator Technology Sumatera. User Experience specialists & design agency in Sumatera, Indonesia. — createralabs.design by @tobisantoso

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Hi 👋 Here is Creator Technology Sumatera. User Experience specialists & design agency in Sumatera, Indonesia. — createralabs.design by @tobisantoso

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