The term “UX” may be new to you, and it is increasingly important in many fields. UX stands for "User Experience," and that includes the entire relationship between the user and a product. What that looks like depends on the industry and product that we're talking about (which may often be software). This article reviews Confident UX: The Essential Skills for User Experience Design, a book by Adrian Bilan.

Adrian Bilan is the director of user experience for UK/EMEA at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. He is a seasoned and renowned UX designer with over two decades of experience in the industry, and he offers a unique perspective on the intersections between UX and other disciplines. He is based in London, UK. His book is an insightful guide to UX design.

There are three sections within Confident UX. Part 1 answers the question: What is UX Design? This addresses the basic benefits of UX and related technologies, along with how UX design might help you be better positioned in a rapidly changing business world. It is a high-level view of the sub-disciplines of UX, the opportunities that UX offers, and what is (and what is not) UX. Part 2 covers the UX design process. There are some deep dives into the topic so that readers will learn everything they need to get started with UX. Part 3 tells you how to become a UX designer.

In my opinion, if you already know that your prospective job is going to involve UX design, you need to read Part 3 after you read Parts 1 and 2. If you will be doing anything else relating to UX, read Part 1 and as much of Part 2 as seems relevant.

What is UX?

User Experience design first appeared as a multidisciplinary approach to design in 1993 when Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and usability engineer working for Apple, coined the term. UX design involves understanding human behavior and designing products and services around those behaviors.

According to Norman, “’User experience' encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products." This is definitely an “umbrella concept,” and it applies to a huge amount of human activity and experience. UX designers take into account not only the functionality of a product but also how it looks and feels to use and all the emotions it conveys when the user interacts with it. The objective of UX design is to create enjoyable products and services for users.

The importance of UX to learning

As designers and developers of products and services intended to facilitate learning, behavior change, and skill, we know that emotions play an essential role in driving user behavior and engagement. Interest and excitement are also essential emotions and must be thoughtfully considered when researching and designing products or services. As I said, UX design is concerned with the functionality of a product or service, and with the look, feel, and emotions the user experiences when interacting with the product or service. This is an aspect of our work in learning design that should not be left off of our checklists.

Engagement is the key to driving learning that lasts, and lack of engagement is a critical deficiency. Emotions drive user behavior, create a physical response within the mind, and influence how we encode information into memory. When we experience strong emotions (including interest, excitement. joy, or surprise), our brains prioritize the associated details for storage. These emotionally-charged memories generated by learning tend to be vivid and enduring. UX gives us a way to 24lock in those memories.

UX plays a significant role in the context of learning in several ways:

  • Well-designed learning experiences enhance engagement and motivation. When learners find the interface intuitive, visually appealing, and easy to navigate, they are more likely to stay focused and motivated.
  • Clear instructions, interactive elements, and positive feedback contribute to a better learning environment.
  • UX design influences how learners process information. Well-designed visuals, interactive quizzes, and multimedia elements enhance comprehension and retention.
  • Engaging interactions, such as interactive simulations, reinforce learning.

Learning about UX by changing perspective

In Chapter 12, Bilan tells some stories about how his UX career was shaped by experiences going all the way back to his childhood. Chapters 12 through 14 provide wonderful suggestions for designing and building UX skills and a UX career. Bilan’s takeaway is that what is important to becoming a UX designer is love for problem-solving, human behavior, and analytical behavior. Everything else, he says, you will learn in due course. If you need more encouragement and a huge example of how UX develops in life, my belief is that you should read a biography of the master of UX, Leonardo da Vinci, and study his notebooks.

Because UX is a truly interdisciplinary field,” studying” UX involves getting familiar with other disciplines, sometimes by playing and sometimes through practice. Your chances of already having a skill that fits into psychology, engineering, and writing are high. It does not matter what field you come from; Bilan maintains that some of the best people he has ever worked with in UX never studied technology-related fields.

UX design directly impacts how learners engage with educational content. Prioritizing UX leads to more effective and enjoyable learning experiences. I completely recommend Adrian Bilan’s book!