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What is UXD?

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

UXD stands for “User Experience Design”. A short and simple definition is: the process of designing digital or physical products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with. But what exactly does that process look like?

The more you think about UXD, the bigger it gets. A user’s experience with a product involves small decisions (like the color of a button or the shape of an icon), but on top of the user interface (UI) there are other layers that are just as important.

Roy Peckham, a designer for ExxonMobil who kindly speaks to our association each year, shared three layers of the whole user experience: Interface, Interaction, and Experience. Often the interface gets the most attention from designers (i.e. the buttons, banners, icons, etc.). But the other two layers are just as important and also affect whether or not a user has a good experience.

Interaction is the layer above the interface. This is the slightly more abstract design of a product. The interaction layer for a digital product (like a website) might answer questions such as “What pages are available, and how are they organized? How does a user access each of these pages? What’s on the page when they arrive?” For a physical product (like a cell phone, or even something more mundane like a tape measure) the interaction layer might ask “What tasks can a user accomplish with this device? How do they access each function? How does the device indicate when the task is complete?”

Have you ever thought about the reasons why a tape measure is designed the way it is? Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Can you see how this layer is slightly different from the interface layer? Often designers and developers rush straight to designing page layouts and features without giving enough thought to the organization of the user’s interaction with the product.

The top layer gets even more abstract, but it’s still just as important: the experience layer. How does a user access this product? What were they doing right before? What will they do right after they finish using it? What are they trying to accomplish or become by using this product? Asking and answering questions like these can fundamentally shift how a product is designed and built.

This three-layer strategy is just one way to approach UX design – there are countless methodologies and strategies available to learn and apply. UXD is still an emerging field, but more and more companies are realizing the value in hiring a team of dedicated UX researchers and designers. Specific tools and strategies of a UX designer include writing user stories, creating personas & empathy maps, conducting interviews & user tests with mockups, and creating prototypes & wireframes. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Part of the excitement that comes from being a UX designer is the discoveries you make along the way.


The BYU UXD Association exists to help bridge the gap between students and the world of UX. We work hard to give students (1) opportunities to learn from professionals about industry practices and career paths, (2) resources (like software tools and design strategies) to learn and practice new skills and build a portfolio, and (3) networking with industry professionals. Come to our next meeting! We’re always excited to have new people join us as we explore an aspect of UX each week.

Want to learn more about UX? Check out this article on Medium, or just start searching around! The Resources page on this site is also a great place to start.