A new career can present us with various novelties and perspectives we never imagined. In fact, a profession comes loaded with new vocabularies that can be confusing for those who are just starting out. In this material, we will dive into the universe of UX and Product Design jargon, a language that may seem strange to the ears but is essential for communicating and thriving in this vibrant area.
Understanding UX jargon is not just about learning new words, it's about embracing a new way of thinking and solving problems. For those coming from Graphic Design, this journey may seem familiar, yet filled with new nuances and perspectives. And for those venturing into UX from various fields, comprehending these terms is a crucial step to fully integrate into this dynamic field.
This content is an invitation for you to dive into this new vocabulary, understanding not just the 'what', but the 'why' behind the terms that shape the world of UX and Product Design. Shall we begin?
The Beginning: The Basic Jargon of UX Design
Starting to explore the world of UX and Product Design is, in many ways, like learning a new language. There are many words, expressions, and jargons that are part of the world of user experience, whose understanding is necessary for the fluency of everyday life.
Of course, as time passes and with professional experience, this new world of terms and words will become part of your vocabulary, and at a certain point, you will be mastering this entire new dictionary.
However, at the beginning of your career, you might get lost amidst so many jargons, and this can end up impacting your routine. Therefore, we will cover some of the main vocabularies of UX and Product Design so that you can better follow the conversations and meetings of your day-to-day.
The Essential Glossary of UX and Product Design
Below, we have listed some of the most common and key vocabularies and jargons you might encounter in UX Design, initially. It's worth remembering that this list is not definitive, as you progress and become more experienced, other words and concepts will emerge.
Refers to the complete experience of a user when interacting with a product or service. It's a holistic approach that considers all aspects of the user's interaction.
The visual and interactive aspect of a digital product. While UX encompasses the entire experience, UI focuses on the layout and visual elements.
A basic sketch that defines the structure of a page or application, focusing on the arrangement of elements, without detailed design.
An interactive simulation of the final product that allows testing and iterating the design before development.
A set of techniques used to understand the needs, behaviors, and motivations of users.
Evaluates how real users interact with the product, identifying problems and areas for improvement.
Represents the complete path a user takes when interacting with a product, highlighting all points of contact and experiences.
Ten principles for evaluating the usability of interfaces, developed by Jakob Nielsen.
A design approach that places the user's needs and experiences at the center of the development process.
The structuring and organization of content and information in a digital product, facilitating navigation and information retrieval by the user.
A method used to understand how users categorize information, aiding in the creation of an intuitive information architecture.
The practice of creating clear and effective texts to guide and inform the user within a digital product.
A field of study focused on the design and use of computer interfaces, prioritizing user effectiveness and satisfaction.
Refers to the way users interact with a digital product, including actions like clicks, scrolls, and gestures.
The process of repeatedly prototyping and testing a product, making adjustments based on user feedback to improve the experience.
A design approach that emphasizes rapid iteration and continuous learning, with less emphasis on extensive documentation.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
The simplest version of a product that can be launched to test hypotheses and gather user feedback.
A fictional representation of an ideal user, based on data and research, that helps guide design decisions.
A more simplified and assumption-based version of a persona, used when real data is limited.
A measure of profit or benefit gained in relation to the investment made, applied in UX to evaluate the effectiveness of improvements.
Any person or group that has an interest in or is affected by the success of a design project.
A software development philosophy that emphasizes incremental delivery, collaboration, continuous feedback, and adaptability.
A set of standards, best practices, components, and design guidelines used consistently across an organization.
A collaborative session where team members and stakeholders come together to solve design problems, generate ideas, or align objectives.
Comparative analysis of products or services, observing how competitors or similar industries solve similar design problems.
UX Design Jargon vs. Graphic Design Jargon
While Graphic Design is often focused on the aesthetics and visual communication of a product or material, UX and Product Design go further, encompassing functionality, ease of use, and the effectiveness of the user experience.
However, some expressions, concepts, and words can easily be confused between Graphic Design and Product Design, or even give the impression that they are the same thing.
In this sense, below is a small list of the main jargon in Graphic Design and Product Design and their differences.
Wireframe vs. Layout
While a graphic designer creates detailed and visually appealing layouts, a wireframe in UX is more about the structure and flow of information before adding graphic design elements.
User Research vs. Market Analysis
User research in UX focuses on understanding the specific needs and behaviors of product users, while market analysis in graphic design can be broader, aiming at trends and preferences within a market segment.
Prototype vs. Mockup
In graphic design, a mockup is usually a finalized static model of the design. A prototype in UX, on the other hand, is an interactive and testable version of the product that can still go through various iterations.
Persona vs. Target Audience
In UX, creating personas involves developing detailed profiles of fictional users based on research to guide product design. In graphic design, the focus is on defining a broader target audience, considering demographics and general preferences to guide aesthetics and communication approach.
Usability Testing vs. Design Review
Usability testing in UX seeks to assess the ease of use and efficiency of the product with real users, while in graphic design, design review usually involves internal or client feedback on visual appearance and compliance with branding requirements.
Information Architecture vs. Visual Composition
In UX, information architecture deals with the organization and structuring of content and functions in a digital product. In contrast, in graphic design, the emphasis is on visual composition, which deals with the harmonious arrangement of graphic elements to create an attractive and functional piece.
UX Writing vs. Copywriting
UX Writing focuses on creating clear and functional texts that guide and assist users within a digital product, while copywriting in graphic design is often geared towards advertising and marketing, aiming to persuade and engage the audience.
Responsive Design vs. Adaptive Design
In UX, responsive design refers to creating digital products that adapt and work well on different screen sizes. In graphic design, the concept of adaptive design may refer to adapting a visual campaign or branding for different media and contexts.
Site Map vs. Storyboard
In UX, a site map is used to plan the structure and navigation of a website. In graphic design, a storyboard is commonly used to visualize the narrative of a graphic piece or campaign, showing the sequence of images and text.
By understanding these nuances and terms, professionals coming from graphic design or other fields can have a smoother transition into the world of UX and Product Design, integrating their prior skills with new knowledge and practices.
The Jargon of UX in the Design Process
In addition to knowing the most common vocabularies and jargon of UX Design, it's also important to understand when each of these expressions is used.
In UX and Product Design, it's quite common to be involved in product development projects. This process involves various stages, and at each stage, a specific vocabulary becomes more common.
From Concept to Execution
- Discovery Phase (Empathy and Research): Here, terms like user research and user interviews are essential. In this phase, the goal is to deeply understand the needs and behaviors of users.
- Definition (Synthesis and Analysis): User personas and empathy maps are used to synthesize collected information and define the design problem.
- Ideation (Brainstorming and Prototyping): Terms like brainstorming and rapid prototyping are essential. Ideas are generated, and initial prototypes are created to test concepts.
- Design (Wireframes and Mockups): In this stage, detailed wireframes and mockups are created to visualize the structure and design of the interface.
- Testing (Usability Testing and Iteration): Usability tests are conducted to assess how users interact with the product. The results are used to iterate and improve the design.
- Launch and Evaluation: After the launch, terms like metrics analysis and user feedback are crucial for evaluating the product's success and identifying areas for continuous improvement.
Each stage of the UX design process is an opportunity to apply and better understand the specific terms of the field, and these case studies offer a practical glimpse of how these concepts are used in the real world.
The Origin and Evolution of Jargon in UX Design
Understanding the origin and evolution of UX jargon not only enriches our knowledge but also helps us realize how the field of user experience design is inherently interdisciplinary and constantly changing.
Let's briefly explore the history of some key terms and how the influence of other areas has shaped the UX vocabulary.
- Usability: The term "usability," now a cornerstone in UX, dates back to the basic principles of ergonomics in the 1940s. Originally focused on efficiency and comfort in the workplace, it evolved to include ease of use in digital systems.
- User Interface (UI): The concept of UI emerged with the advent of early graphical computers in the 1960s. Since then, the term has significantly transformed, moving from text-based interfaces to complex graphic designs and intuitive user interfaces.
- User Experience (UX): Coined in the 1990s by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and designer, the term "user experience" was initially used to describe the breadth of a person's experience with a system, including aspects of design, usability, and functionality.
- User-Centered Design: This term emerged in the 1990s, reflecting a shift in focus from the product to user needs and experiences. It is an example of how UX design evolved to emphasize empathy and user understanding.
Influence from Other Fields
- Psychology: Concepts like "cognitive load" and "Gestalt theory" in design were borrowed from psychology. They help understand how users perceive and process information, crucial for creating effective and enjoyable interfaces.
- Anthropology: Methods like "ethnographic research" are used in UX to understand user behaviors and cultures. This helps create products that are truly user-centered, respecting their needs and cultural contexts.
- Technology: With technological advancements, new terms like "responsive design" and "voice interaction" emerged, reflecting how technological innovations influence design practices.
The evolution of UX jargon is not just a change of words but reflects a deeper transformation in how we understand and interact with products. This historical knowledge not only enriches the understanding of terms but also provides valuable insights into the development of the UX field itself.
Knowing the roots of UX terms helps not only to understand them better but also to appreciate the diverse influences that have shaped the field as we know it today. This historical and interdisciplinary perspective is essential for anyone looking to delve deeper into UX and Product Design.
Jargon and Tools of UX Design
Vocabularies, terms, and jargon in UX and Product Design are not limited to meeting moments or project stages. Many terms are constantly used, even in everyday software.
In this regard, we present here the terms most commonly used depending on the type of software and tool you are using.
Prototyping Software (Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma)
Mastery of specific terms is crucial for effectively using these tools. 'Wireframe' describes the basic skeleton of an interface, essential for initial planning. 'Mockup' is the next step, offering a richer visual representation, and 'prototype' is the culmination where ideas turn into interactive experiences.
Understanding these terms not only aids in clear communication among team members but also ensures that the design process is more structured and objective.
Usability Testing Tools (UserTesting, Lookback)
Here, vocabulary is the foundation for testing and improving design. 'A/B Testing' is essential for comparing different versions of a design and selecting the most efficient one. 'Eye tracking' provides valuable insights into user visual behavior, while 'usability' is the ultimate measure of how intuitive and accessible the design is.
Understanding these terms not only guides the efficient use of these tools but also directs focus to critical aspects of design that directly impact the user experience.
Collaborative Design Platforms (InVision, Miro)
In this context, vocabulary facilitates efficient collaboration. 'Storyboard' is a powerful narrative tool for visualizing the flow of the user experience. 'User flow' maps the user's journey through the product, highlighting key interaction points.
Understanding these concepts is vital for effective collaboration, as it ensures that all team members are aligned and focused on the project's common goals, maximizing productivity and creativity.
Reading Tip: 27 UX/UI Design Tools For You to Know in 2023
Technology and UX: The Impact of Technological Advances on UX Vocabulary
When new concepts and technologies emerge, it's very likely that new terms and jargon will also arise. In UX and Product Design, we can already observe some jargon related to the following technologies:
Augmented and Virtual Reality
These technologies are redefining the boundaries of UX, introducing a set of terms vital for the development and understanding of modern digital experiences.
Terms like 'immersion' describe the depth of the user experience in these virtual environments. 'Three-dimensional experience' emphasizes the spatial and interactive nature of these platforms, while 'spatial navigation' refers to how users move and interact within these digital worlds.
Understanding these concepts is crucial for UX designers seeking to create truly engaging and intuitive experiences in augmented and virtual realities.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The influence of AI on UX is immense, bringing with it a specific lexicon that is essential for user-centered design. 'Machine Learning' refers to the ability of systems to learn and evolve based on user data, which is transforming UX personalization.
'Algorithmic personalization' highlights how algorithms can offer unique and tailored experiences to each user. 'Chatbots,' which use AI to simulate human conversations, are another important aspect, requiring UX designers to have a deep understanding of natural language and interaction.
These terms are not just jargon; they represent the pillars of how AI is shaping human-computer interaction.
Wearable Technologies and IoT (Internet of Things)
The growing field of wearable devices and IoT significantly expands the scope of UX, requiring an adapted vocabulary for these new forms of interaction.
'Design for wearables' is a key concept, emphasizing the need for interfaces that are intuitive and comfortable for body-worn devices.
'Omnichannel user experience' highlights the importance of creating consistent and integrated user experiences across a variety of devices and platforms, from smartphones to smart appliances.
Understanding and applying these terms is essential for UX designers who want to create innovative and effective solutions for the growing ecosystem of connected devices.
Understanding UX tools and technologies is crucial not only for effective design practice but also for staying up-to-date with the language and methods that continue to evolve with technological advances.
Language Barriers: Navigating the Challenges of UX and Product Design Jargon
Migrating to the field of UX Design can be particularly challenging for professionals coming from other areas due to the intensive use of specific jargon. Understanding terms like "usability," "user interface," and "user experience" is crucial for comprehending project discussions and requirements.
It is essential for these professionals to seek resources such as glossaries and introductory courses to become familiar with this new vocabulary, enabling more effective communication with team members and clients.
Challenges of Understanding
Professionals from non-design backgrounds, such as administration or biology, may encounter additional difficulties in correctly interpreting UX jargon.
This barrier can lead to misunderstandings or the inappropriate application of concepts. To overcome this, it is advisable to participate in workshops, webinars, and UX-focused discussion groups where they can learn not only the meanings of terms but also how and when to apply them in real contexts.
Integration of Vocabulary
Becoming familiar with technical vocabulary is a vital step for effective integration into UX teams.
Knowing specific terms allows professionals not only to follow discussions but also to actively contribute to them.
Here, the suggestion is to practice using these terms in real contexts, such as during team meetings or when writing project documents, to strengthen understanding and fluency in this new technical language.
Cultural and linguistic differences can significantly influence the understanding of UX Design jargon and terms.
Professionals should be aware that certain terms may have different meanings in various cultural contexts.
To deal with this, it is important to cultivate cultural sensitivity, be open to learning from colleagues with different backgrounds, and be willing to adapt communication to ensure that everyone on the team has a common understanding of the terms and concepts used.
Tips for Keeping Up with UX Design Jargon
- Communities and Social Networks: For UX professionals, it is crucial to stay connected with the community, both online and offline. Actively participating in forums, LinkedIn groups, and events offers a unique learning opportunity. These spaces allow for the exchange of experiences, discussions on trends, and occasional insights into new concepts and jargon in the field. Additionally, contributing your own experiences and questions in such communities can enhance your understanding and application of UX terms in your daily work.
- Practice and Experience: Theory is only one part of learning; practice leads to mastery. Engaging in real projects or simulations helps you understand how UX concepts and jargon are applied in the real world. Through case studies and practical projects, professionals can experience challenging situations and learn to apply UX vocabulary effectively. This hands-on approach reinforces learning and facilitates the internalization of concepts and terms.
- Mentorship and Networking: Having a mentor in UX can be invaluable. A mentor not only provides guidance and support but can also help you understand the specific vocabulary and jargon of the field. Furthermore, building a network of contacts is crucial for continuous development. Networking at events, workshops, and conferences allows you to stay updated on the latest industry trends, practices, and terminology. These professional connections are essential for ongoing and effective learning in UX and Product Design.
The world of UX and Product Design is dynamic and ever-evolving, and mastering its vocabulary and jargon is a fundamental step toward fluency in this field.
We invite you to dive in headfirst, explore further, question, and, most importantly, apply these terms and concepts in your professional journey. May this be an exciting and enriching journey for you in the world of UX and Product Design.