User experience design (UX design) may feel like a new and exciting field, but many of the UX design concepts and design principles we know today have been around since the late 1940s when Toyota developed its famous human-centered production system.
Traditionally, UX design has focused on the interaction between human users, machines, and contextual environments. Since the 1990s, UX design has evolved to help us understand user behavior for digital user interfaces such as computers and devices.
After decades of user research, we like to think we have a pretty good understanding of user behavior guided by key user experience design principles and best practices. As a designer, developing a deeper understanding of these UX design principles will help you design better products and websites that are not only easier to use but more effective at guiding users.
Good UX design is a competitive advantage
Have you ever used an app, website, or online form and been frustrated with the user experience? Maybe certain parts didn't behave as you expected and we unintuitive. That's bad UX design. Contrarily, when you use an app or website with good UX design, you likely don't even realize. Good UX design is intuitive and invisible because it's in tune with human behavior.
Many people won't consciously think about the overall user experience, but bad UX will hurt your brand and product. As more and more companies realize this, it's more important than ever to invest in UX design, user research, and usability testing.
Good user experience design is a competitive advantage:
- Positive user satisfaction: When users have a positive experience, they are more likely to return, churn less, spend more money, and refer others.
- Improved user loyalty: Good UX design fosters product loyalty. There are likely products you use every day because they have incredible user experience design, even if they are more expensive than competitors. For me, Superhuman, Linear, and Webflow come to mind.
- Higher conversion rates: Good UX design and UI design create a seamless user flow which will almost certainly boost conversion rates. There are countless examples like this one where small changes to user experience design can drastically increase conversion rates.
- Reduced support costs: Good UX design can reduce the need for customer support and troubleshooting. This is a good idea because when the user experience is intuitive, users are less likely to encounter issues and contact support.
- Better brand perception and trust: While this is harder to quantify, businesses can drastically improve their brand image and perception over the long term by focusing on good design and user experience design best practices. In my opinion, this is one of the highest-leverage things a business can do to build a competitive advantage.
Good UX design is a competitive advantage because it lifts every aspect of the business and user experience while saving costs in the long run. A lot of businesses and user experience teams don't realise that prioritizing user experience design is not just a matter of aesthetics; it's a strategic decision.
The UX design industry changes fast but human behavior changes slowly
The field of user experience (UX) design has grown significantly in popularity over the last few years and continues to grow rapidly. More and more businesses are focusing on improving web usability and the user experience of their websites, mobile apps, and products.
10 years ago, UX designers were only just beginning to focus on user research, usability testing, design thinking for responsive/adaptive design and mobile-first approaches. Today, UX design is already looking forward to exciting technologies like augmented reality, 3D, and cross-platform design.
If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry! The UX design industry changes rapidly, but core user design principles and UX best practices remain relatively the same. A solid understanding of human behavior, psychology, and UX design process is always a good idea and will prove invaluable for your career.
Classic UX design books like Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, Jeff Johnson's Designing with the Mind in Mind, and Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think are usually just as relevant today for user experience design as when they were published.