You may be shocked at how much overlap there is between data analysis and UX/UI design. But the truth is that engagement drives profit and companies have nothing but incentive to use every tool at their disposal to reach, maintain, and grow their customer base. Modern web design features a much tighter overlap between web developers, data analysts, and UX/UI designers in an effort to create a unique and frictionless experience for consumers.
What is UX/UI Design?
Form or function: what’s more important? A UI designer might say form, but a UX designer wouldn’t dare pick sides. UX, or user experience, is all about creating products that are natural and effortless to use. UI, otherwise known as user interface, deals instead with the overall look of a product. Both are extremely important and tightly coupled (you can’t have a great experience without a great interface!), so modern day web designers are tasked with doing both things, hence the term UX/UI design.
In today’s day and age, virtually every product used by everyday consumers has a GUI, or a graphical user interface. The user interface (i.e. the way the user interacts with an app or a website) is an integral part of the user experience, so it makes sense that one person can serve both as the UX and the UI designer. Both tasks are so important that it’s not logical to divide the job amongst different people and risk the UX and UI design becoming out-of-sync.
But, what might be surprising to learn is that a UX/UI Designer not only performs two functions, but is also usually working with multiple different software development teams at once.
It takes time to create a good design and the software team usually can’t get started on their work until the design is finalized, so the designers and the developers are rarely working on the same features at the same time. After, once the features are built out, the data analysts can come in and inform the business on which features make sense to the users and which ones do not. From there, the data analysts and UX/UI designers can work together to address the concerns and create an improved user experience. But, let’s not get carried away: for now, let’s learn about what it means to be a UX/UI designer in the context of modern web development.
We keep talking about UX/UI design (not UI/UX design), but we think the concept is easier to understand if we start out by first describing UI design. As we briefly stated earlier, UI Design deals exclusively with the overall look of a product. UI designers are tasked with creating something beautiful. As a UI designer, you would focus on how a specific web page or even individual elements of a web page look and function. By the time you’re ready to pass on the product to the web development team, it should be something that’s attractive, exhaustive, and intuitive.
UX Design is all about the user. It’s about creating a product that, yes, looks good, but, above all, feels good to the user. A UX designer is tasked with making an entire product, from start to finish, one seamless experience for the user. Because of this, a UX designer has to care about individual UI elements as a button or even a tooltip that doesn’t make sense can throw off the user and create an experience that’s less than the sum of its parts. Creating a product that’s intuitive is the hardest part of the web development lifecycle, but also the most important.
What is Data Analysis?
Data analysis is something everyone does every single day. Simply put, it’s the processing of data with the intention of identifying patterns and insights. Of course, everyday data analysis and what data analysts do on-the-job are two very different things: companies hire data analysts to explore massive amounts of data in a rigorous and repeatable way in order to extract and present subtle, buried takeaways they wouldn’t otherwise recognize.
There are four key aspects to the role of a data analyst: collection, interpretation, reporting, and governance–you may have noticed that one of those is not like the others! Let’s go over each key aspect and why it’s important:
Collection: data analysts are skilled at gathering information from as many sources as possible, working to ensure that the data they collect is of high-enough quality that useful analysis can be performed on it.
Interpretation: using a number of techniques, data analysts identify patterns, trends, and correlations within the data they collected. These insights can be used to describe what, why, when, and how users do what they do as well as drive models that can be used to predict future user actions.
Reporting: information is only useful to you if you have it! Data analysts play a crucial role in ensuring that stakeholders are made aware of their findings. By presenting data in a digestible format, data analysts can enable decision-makers to best understand their users and make correct choices for future iterations of a product.
Governance: This role is what’s least talked about when it comes to data analysis. Data analysts are responsible not just for collecting data, but for establishing data standards, ensuring data integrity, and implementing data management practices. How and when companies can collect data is becoming increasingly more regulated and data analysts have to make sure businesses are always in compliance with the law.
Now we know exactly what UX/UI design and data analysis both are. You’ve probably already made some educated guesses and have an idea of how the two roles can work together during a product life cycle. Let’s see if you got it right.
How do Data Analysts and UX/UI Designers Work Together?
Today’s world is more data-driven than ever. And, the success of any product (digital or otherwise) depends on its ability to meet the needs and preferences of its users. Naturally, businesses employ data analysts to better understand user behavior in order to create more intuitive and impactful user-centric digital experiences.
Before we get started on discussing how data analysts and UX/UI designers work together, let’s debunk one common misconception: data analysts can play a role at the beginning of a product life cycle. You’re probably wondering how a data analyst could possibly be useful before there exists a product for which to gather data but, as previously mentioned, data analysts are also tasked with ensuring that businesses are in compliance with the law with regards to data gathering. Data analysts can be helpful in the process of crafting a user experience that is legal and data-rich. They can also be helpful by presenting insights gathered from similar products or experiences. Bottom line is that every role in a web development team can be useful during any and every part of the product life cycle.
Back to the subject at hand: how do data analysts and UX/UI designers work together? In short, they use their combined knowledge to understand the user journey and to create a product that meets all the needs of their users. They do this in three steps: user research, product design, and usability testing. Let’s go over each one.
In order to create a product that users will enjoy, designers must first understand exactly what users want from their product. Data analysts are able to bridge the gap between users and designers by conducting research on what features users value and why. Whether it be through surveys or interviews, data analysts can gather feedback that provides valuable insights into user preferences and pain points. It’s important the designers know what users like, don’t like, and wish they had.
Armed with information on what’s important to the users, designers are able to create, iterate, and improve on features while prioritizing the existing issues that are most important. A great product isn’t created in one go; it takes time systematically analyzing user data to be able to refine a product vision to be in line with user expectations. A data-driven approach helps designers create user-centric designs that are optimized for usability, engagement, and overall satisfaction.
This step is similar to user research, but happens after a product or feature is released. Usability testing is all about collecting data on user interactions and behaviors in order to be able to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of a design. Usability testing can be used to validate design choices or influence new design decisions. Like with the scientific method, designers use usability testing as one of many tools to be able redesign products to meet the specific needs of its users.
The great thing about being a data analyst or a UX/UI designer is that you’ll always be well-compensated and have the opportunity to work on exciting products. What’s more, Ironhack provides a number of exciting bootcamps designed to transform your skills and abilities in as little as nine weeks.
You’ll find that Ironhack offers bootcamps for just about anybody, whether you want to become a UX/UI designer, a data analyst, a web developer, or even a cybersecurity expert. We’re sure that, with our help, you’ll be able to reach your career goals in no time. Come poke around our website to see which bootcamp is the best fit for you. We can’t wait to see you in class!