A UX Design Journey through Problems, Empathy and Personas

Let’s be honest- who really knows what a UX Designer is, without being one themselves? Truthfully, I did not know much about it either.  

That is until I took a course in Principles of UX Design. Through the course I was able to unlock many facets of design thinking and I was surprised by the ability to invoke my own emotions as well as others..

All semester I wondered what qualities make a good UX designer? How does one know they have a effective design?  

Throughout the course I explored many Ux design methods.  

Module 1: Design Thinking Overview 

Educational App “Big Idea”

This is the first step in launching the creative process. We as a class participated in partner interviews designed by the dschool to take a “crash course” in design thinking. During the 90 minute process we were able to determine a problem statement, craft solutions, receive feedback, and ultimately create one big idea.  

This process proved that design thinking is not a complex formula; it is something almost anyone can do with time, research, collaboration, and a little creativity.  

Module 2: User Psychology 

In this class where I started to explore the nuts and bolts of design thinking. What is the difference between UX and UI design? Why does it matter at all? Well it matters a great deal. Users don’t want a complicated website that takes a long amount of time to navigate. Just as the functionality (UX design) of a website is important, users can be pulled in just as easily by the aesthetics (UI design). 

Module 3: User Empathy 

If I were to point to one key lesson for me in the whole course, it would be this one: I learned that without user empathy, there would be no design thinking. World history does not exist without confronting problems and thanks to design thinkers there wouldn’t have been social reform like we’ve had and will have in the future.  Take for instance the banishment of slavery in the U.K. or confronting climate change now. User empathy is a way to sympathize with all walks of life different than our own. This is essential to the process.

Module 4: Creating Comprehensive Personas 

Personas are immensely important to the design thinking process because they speak to a company’s users. They are the driving force of business in that they identify the customer’s needs and desires.

For this lesson we had an opportunity to create our own personas. While personas take extensive research, we had only a week to develop one. I was able to use fellow movie fans for my research and found that it remarkable how quickly one can find similar voices, needs and values.   

Module 5: Problem Definition 

This is another overarching theme of Design Thinking. If one does not form a proper problem statement, finding a viable solution is impossible. 

Sometimes the problem isn’t always obvious and that is why we must listen to the users to find the problem. It may involve looking at some tough reviews, but without criticism- the model may fail.  

Module 6: Ideation Methods 

This may have been a lesson that I found most useful. I can not only use the methods in my design thinking process, but also in life. Solving difficult problems do not come without roadblocks. Luckily, this lesson taught me the value of working with a team to create new approaches and ideas.  

Module 7: Journey Maps 

It can’t be overstated how important it is to practice empathy when using design thinking. Here is where it really comes into play. Journey Maps are crucial in allowing businesses to understand their customers’ needs, emotions, and activities from their initial intent to buy to after they have paid. This is an important indicator of how businesses can improve the customer experience and gain positive relationships with new and repeat customers.  

PDF can be downloaded below.

Final Thoughts on Principles of UX Design

Man and Woman conversation by mohamed mahmoud hassan

What makes a good UX designer? Well, it is one who practices empathy and understands the customer’s feelings and needs, while helping a company grow. It is someone who can work as a teammate to define problem statements and find creative methods to address a roadblock.   

Before this course I always claimed to be a writer, but not a designer; a logistical researcher, but not an artist. Now I realized that I have the emotional capacity, creative eye and collaborative force to be a design thinker. This class will surely take me further in my research and encourage new exciting ideas.

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