The Art of Building the User Experience

Visual beauty is ever present in our world, full of colors and textures, and for the most part, we have designers to thank for that.  What is not as immediately evident is the planning and construction behind the beauty.  While the world experiences the grace and elegance of perfectly designed “things,” it is also likely that they are unknowingly having an experience that was specifically tailored to them.

More than ever before, the user experience is strategically defined to ensure seamless movement and flow through the elements of a design. This applies to many things – buildings, retail shops, and even websites.  Architects of buildings, for example, consider things like traffic flow, efficient use of space, and conveyance of the owner’s style.  Retail shop owners may utilize color and lighting to draw in prospective shoppers, and display techniques to encourage shoppers to linger and connect with their products.  In a way, the same is true for designers of websites.

There is a tremendous amount of effort spent on planning the user experience, but this is only half the story.

Many hours are spent by website designers drafting style, typography, use of white space, and mapping out how one element flows to the next in line with user expectation. There is a tremendous amount of effort spent on planning the user experience, but this is only half the story.

Some say that the user experience or visual display of an application is what makes the most impact, but what is design without functionality?  In the case of a building, imagine visiting a brand new building and seeing tall ceilings, elegant fixtures and breathtaking artwork, but you have to go back outside to go up to the next level.  This is a poor user experience at the expense of beauty.

The world may think of website developers as robotic type thinkers who don’t possess the talents necessary to invoke an effective design.  Honestly, that’s not true. Imagine the construction crew of a building, how many configurations of stairs do you think a construction crew has built? Probably thousands. They possess invaluable knowledge on “what works” and “what doesn’t work” on a new building projects. Similarly, website developers can provide insight on possibilities as well as potential landmines.

Design impacts the first few minutes of the user experience, but functionality keeps the user engaged.

Developers construct and bring life to what the designers have created. Both front-end and back-end developers can typically work magic with the multitude of frameworks and technologies available to them. There is nothing we can’t do. Seriously.

Personally, as a developer, I love a challenge. I thoroughly enjoy bringing to life something new, something no one has created before. Complex, multi-layered designs are the most fun because they are the most challenging.  That said,  I also have a responsibility when it becomes apparent that the user experience has been victimized by flashy design.

The true art of building the user experience involves marrying an exquisite design with equally exquisite functionality.

You could have the most beautifully designed website on the Internet, but if all it does is look pretty with no user interaction or functional purpose, most users would sing its praises initially, but move on and never come back.  The true art of building the user experience involves marrying an exquisite design with equally exquisite functionality.  Attract the user with beauty, engage them with tailored interactivity, and they will reward you.

Happy coding …

Cheryl Velez, Grumpy Bunny Dev

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