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What are the branches of user experience design?

User experience constitutes a lot of design arms that are concerned with building products that are either digital or physical in nature. This article specifies the different branches that exist in user experience design.

Illustration of branches of user experience design

Interaction design

Interaction design is a branch of user experience design that focuses on the user’s experience of a product and how it tends to function. It studies the user’s path on a product, or how a user tends to interact with an app, platform, or website when using it to complete a task. The questions that are asked in interaction design are:

  1. What will happen if a user taps on this button?
  2. How do we make this task easier for the user?
  3. How do we design the layout of this website?

Visual design

Visual design is a branch of user experience design that focuses on how a product or technology looks. Visual design is concerned with the designing of logos, illustrations, and icons, and in deciding about such things as the right color to use for a page view. Visual design is also concerned with font type, size, and placement on a design interface. Visual design answers questions like:

  1. What kind of visual styling can we apply to this icon?
  2. Which color and font can we apply to this button?

Motion design

Motion design is a branch of user experience that focuses on the feeling a user gains in moving through a product, and on creating appropriate transitions between web pages and/or applications. Animation and visual effects are applied to bring ideas to life in motion design. Motion design answers questions like:

  1. How should an app transition between pages?
  2. How can we show the connection between these actions?
  3. What animation can help tell this story?

VR/AR design

Virtual reality/augmented reality design is a branch of user experience design that helps create user products that give an immersive experience while having no bounds to the physical world around them. It involves the use of a wearable headset that captures the user’s vision, obstructing the physical surrounding around the user. VR/AR design answers questions like:

  1. How do we create a user experience that can leverage 3D space?

  2. Will this action cause motion sickness to a user?

UX research

UX research is a branch of user experience design that focuses on conducting studies or interviews to investigate how the product is being used by the target users. It tends to identify a product’s pain points to users and help evaluate possible solutions to the discovered pain points. It also investigates the usability and usefulness of an existing product. UX research answers questions like:

  1. What constraints are users facing while using this product?
  2. Is the product design easy for the user to navigate?
  3. Is there room for improvement on the existing design?

UX engineering

UX engineering is a branch of user experience design that focuses on translating a design idea into a corresponding functional product. It investigates the technical possibility of design ideas that are developed by the UX teams. UX engineering answers questions like:

  1. How can we implement the specified interactions in the design?

  2. How do we transition this design into a product?

  3. How can we build this product to arrive at the best experience?

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