User Experience Design, or UX design as it is more commonly called, is defined by Wikipedia as “ the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product”. The thing is, if you ask 10 UX designers what UX means to them, you’re bound to get 10 different answers.
To me, UX design means always considering who will be using my creations, what they hope to achieve when doing so and ultimately why one might choose my product, site or service over someone else’s. I try to keep in mind that development (and technology in general) is a very human-centric business. After all even the most amazing tech products can be killed in a heartbeat by the simple denial of every day consumers to adopt it.
So why should a front-end developer care about UX Design? Truth is, if you work in the production of technology in any capacity, you should always care about UX design. It ‘s easy to drop the dreaded “its not my job” line (especially if you are a developer working at larger shop that might employ a full-time UX designer) but it still remains that UX design is important and should sneak its way into ever step of the product life cycle. Starting first and foremost with those writing the code.
As developers, it is our job to ensure that the code is top-notch. It is what is expected of us. However, like any good artist, our desire to care about our creations should go beyond the mere phase of production. A good painter does not simply create, package, ship and move on. They care about where a piece of work is going, how it will be displayed and who will be enjoying it- and developers should too.
I try to approach my code with a similar sense of empathy. As much as I understand that I am excepted to develop and then ship, I enjoy being more involved in my creations then simply just producing code. I choose to start my development process by researching and writing down what I suspect the goals of my end user base will be, then begin developing around those insights.
This approach gives me a better understanding of whether the user interactions, processes and overall experience of someone interfacing with my code will be a positive one. Taking the path of least resistance as a means to an end is genetically ingrained in human beings, and it has a huge impact on what technology we choose to use ( Apple products anyone?). With that in mind, I want to make sure people find my creations easy to navigate and enjoy interacting with them as much as I have enjoyed brining them into existence.
As developers, we will always be expected to be concerned with tasks. But on your next dev project, try pushing the thought of tasks aside and start first by thinking about goals. More specifically, the goal of the end user. A little empathy will go a long way. It’s ultimately what separates humans from machines – and lets not forget that at the end of the day we code for the user; and users are people too.