The ultimate guide to user experience

The new rules of UX illustrated title

If you've not heard of the term user experience (UX), the clue's in the title. It's about creating a great experience for the users of your website. And that's less about making it look aesthetically pleasing and more about making it easy and intuitive to use.

The secret to a good UX is not to make users have to think about what they're doing: it should come naturally to them to find what they're looking for and interact with your site. In a web design agency, user experience may be the responsibility of the team as a whole or a specific UX designer. There are even entire firms that specialise in user experience consultancy.

UX is not a last-minute consideration – it's something that you should be implementing from when you start planning and creating website mockups. And if this is all sounding a bit wishy-washy, you'll be pleased to hear there are plenty of user testing tools and processes around to help you objectively gauge how successful your user experience design is.

In this post we've grouped together the best articles, interviews and tips on the subject of user experience. Whatever your level of expertise, you're bound to find something to help your understanding and improve your technique. And we'll keep coming back to this post and updating it, so make sure you bookmark it.

Opening illustration: Neil Stevens

Introduction to UX

01. The 6 pillars of great UX

Group of people pointing at a website on a laptop

Good websites are built on these pillars

After a basic introduction to the world of user experience? This article runs down six key things you need to make sure you're doing if you're going to offer a great UX. These six essential pillars form the foundation of a website that is intuitive and pleasant to use.

02. 5 UX lessons you can learn in the toilet

Toilet

Fundamental UX advice for fundamental experiences

Bear with us for a second. If you're looking to get started in UX design, you can learn some fundamental lessons by focusing on... ahem... basic functions. In this amusing but super-useful article, Chris How runs through the UX lessons you can learn from public bathrooms.

03. Laws of UX 

Hick's Law

Fascinating insights into why we design interfaces the way we do

Laws of UX explores the links between UX design and 10 key psychological principles, to provide valuable guidance for designers building user interfaces. On this helpful site, each of the 10 vital UX rules is accompanied by an overview, explanation, and a selection of further reading to dig into. It's also beautifully designed and a breeze to navigate, with subtle animations that help the information shine.

04. The 7 deadly sins of web design

image saying "we use too many damn modals"

We see these errors on websites time and time again

Not sure where to start improving your UX? This article outlines seven major mistakes we see on websites time and time again. Make sure you're not annoying your visitors by avoiding these major web design blunders. 

05. Essential TED talks for UX designers

Do you know what TED stands for? Technology, education, design. As such, there have been plenty of talks exploring the intersection of technology and design over the years. Here we've rounded up the best – starting with Tom Wujec's 'Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast'.

UX tips and advice

06. 9 ways to smash UX on a small budget

Two people looking at notes about a UX design

Great UX doesn't require loads of money

You don't need to be rolling in dosh to craft a great user experience. This post offers some advice for improving your UX workflow if when cash is in short supply – ideal for small teams and startups. 

07. 10 steps to great UX testing

Illustration featuring the headline 'Become a UX testing expert'

Learn how to evaluate your UX strategy

This in-depth article runs through the steps you need to take to successfully test the user experience on your websites. Learn how to figure out the right questions to ask, and what to do with the data once you've gathered it. 

08. Unified UX

In this talk from the Generate New York 2016 conference, Cameron Moll takes on the challenge presented by the increasing numbers of devices and connected objects in the digital landscape. He offers advice for how to create an experience that flows seamlessly between different devices as the user moves from one to another.

09. Tips for better mobile UX design

Hand tapping a 'go' button

Tailor your mobile experiences to keep your users happy

It's no secret that mobile browsing is still on the up. It's no good designing an experience that works perfectly on desktop but falls apart on mobile. So with that in mind, this tutorial rounds up advice for keeping your mobile users happy.

10. Building device-agnostic UX systems

Users increasingly switch between different devices to complete the same task, depending on what's convenient for them at the time. This means our UX strategy now has to transcend devices – offering a consistent experience no matter where the user is coming from. This Generate talk from Anna Dahlström will help you get started.

11. The theory of UX

This long-read takes a closer look at the scientific theory behind user experience. It explores the type of data you can collect and how to find the right meaning in this data to inform the user experiences you design.

12. Conflict is the key to great UX

Many people would argue that good UX is about creating smooth, snag-free experiences, but in his Generate talk, Steve Fisher presents the idea that conflict is an essential ingredient.

Next page: The role of UX and case studies