User experience (UX) has been a hot term in technology recently, and with good reason. More companies are prioritizing UX – everything that a user feels while using a product, usually a website, web application or desktop software. UX includes both the outward aesthetics of a product and its inner functionality, as well as what the user experiences offline.
Design is a differentiator in a marketplace where it has become easier to build software. Developers still reign supreme in Silicon Valley, but that is starting to change as major tech companies such as Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Uber have been hiring large numbers of designers and dramatically increasing their ratios of designers to developers. Even older tech companies like IBM have gotten in on the action; its designer to developer ratio has gone from 1:72 to 1:8.
A large part of improving user experiences is following a design process that emphasizes doing research and using empathy to get to know real users and their actual needs, rather than relying on designers’ assumptions. It also involves closely observing people while they use a product and noting where they have difficulty. As a result, companies have become more aware of their products’ design flaws.
But the winners aren’t just big tech companies. The ultimate aim of UX is to make products, websites and apps simpler and more fun to use.