Commentary: UX research and design are the newest up-and-coming, underappreciated art forms

UX design
Photo courtesy of Fabian Wikto
This article was written by Liv Clizbe, freshman Boise State student majoring in Digital Innovation and Design Major and minoring in Ethics and Argument.

What is UX Research? If you’re not paying close attention to the ins and outs of the tech industry right now, you’ve probably never heard of “UX” before. 

UX stands for User Experience. UX researchers and designers analyze data and behavioral patterns in order to address and provide solutions to issues for all types of digital platforms with the goal of making the user’s experience with that platform as easy and painless as possible. 

UX professionals work with graphic designers, software engineers, AI specialists, determine the most effective placement and design for each and every piece of the user interface. 

The point of having a team that researches the users’ needs and a team that designs the interface (all before the software engineers code the app or website) is ultimately to provide an experience for the user in which they don’t even notice the design.

Sometimes the best designs go unnoticed because they simply work. On the other hand, it is much more noticeable when a design is not hitting the mark. 

When you open up an app, such as Instagram, have you ever stopped to think: “Why are the stories all at the top of the page? Why did they put the ‘Reel’ button in the middle where the ‘Post’ button used to be?” 

These are all intentional placements made by a team of UX researchers and designers who first observed and analyzed users and then identified pain points. From there, they came up with solutions to increase usability. 

The goal is to create a design that works so well that the user never even thinks about it. Clicking each button and navigating through the app becomes second nature. 

But a UX designer does more than just look at the interface through the lens of the user. They need to be able to advocate for the user and their specific needs when stakeholders are only thinking about the money. 

So why have so few people actually heard about UX and why is it so underappreciated?

UX design
[A UX designer creating a mockup]
Photo courtesy of Fabian Wikto

A big part of UX is being able to empathize with the user. Understanding their pain points and diving deep into what can be done to fix them. This is something that engineers, stakeholders, etc. aren’t used to doing. 

Often, when companies are trying to design their online presence, they lean towards getting it done fast, having as many features as possible and finding the cheapest way to do it. 

These companies tend to overlook the idea of having fewer features, taking longer to design and implement their website, but having features that are more engaging and accessible to the user. 

This can all circle back to the idea that the best UX designs are so easy to use that you don’t even notice them. 

So many great designs go unnoticed, and as a result, many companies fail to see UX as a necessity when building their online presence. 

UX research and design are still an up-and-coming sector within the tech industry, and while it is growing rapidly, there are still a lot of people and companies who don’t see the value of this work. 

That said, as more companies realize that optimizing their user experience and putting more money into designing on the back end can actually create larger profits in the long run, the UX industry will only continue to grow.

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