If you’re starting the process of building your first website, or about to undertake a revamp of an existing website, you may have come across the term UX Design. And likely you’re wondering, what the heck is UX?

The term UX Design or User Experience Design refers to design that takes into account how users engage with the website, and how interfaces support (or don’t support) user interaction with the site. In the process of building or redesigning a website, the UX designer will go through a process (more on that later) to drill down on site requirements and user interactions before committing to the development of the site.

Why does UX matter?

Imagine this… You’ve got a brilliant looking membership site (all the bells and whistles), you’re getting plenty of new users, you have a thriving, growing community, but you’re getting 15 phone calls a day asking about membership renewal. If every phone call takes 10 minutes, you’re spending 150 minutes (that’s 2.5 hours) every day on the phone!

In this scenario, your website is costing you time and money for something that should be an automated process. A UX designer can help you identify what’s going wrong and structure a more intuitive process for your users to help reduce your administrative overheads. In this example, the designer would aim to optimise the site to make membership renewal a seamless process – thereby saving you time and money.

Not convinced? Let’s put some costs to those calls:

Admin cost per hour Daily hours on calls Daily cost of site admin Weekly cost of site admin Yearly cost of site admin
$25 2.5 $62.50 $312.50 $16,250

Now in a perfect world of zero calls, these costs could be removed all together, but let’s say call volume drops from 15 calls to 2 calls each day.

Let’s take another look at those figures:

Admin cost per hour Daily hours on calls Daily cost of site admin Weekly cost of site admin Yearly cost of site admin
$25 0.3 $7.50 $37.50 $1,950

That’s a massive $14,300 a year worth of savings.

Of course every business is different, but the potential savings highlighted in this example demonstrate the tangible benefits of optimisation and good UX design. As a real world example, the introduction of an Online Verification Process saves one of our clients $26,000 per year.

The UX Process

Different designers and development teams will work in different ways, depending on their area of speciality, the scale of the website or the type of application. However, there are common aspects that you’ll likely encounter during the UX discovery and design process.

Requirements gathering

Requirements gathering is the process of understanding what content the site needs to contain, who are the main user groups and their journeys, and what are the key functions of the site. Depending on the scope of the project, this process could be as simple as completing a questionnaire to guide the UX designer, or it could be a large-scale exercise including user workshops and panels.


One thing you’ll discover during the UX design process is a strong focus on content first. Unlike print design where there are defined, physical boundaries constraining the content, modern, responsive websites require flexible designs that support the content, not designs that bend the content to fit. Content also shapes functionality, and is a crucial element in understanding the key user groups and their user journeys.

User groups

As the name suggests, users are central to user experience design, and identifying the user groups is integral to understanding who those users are. In most cases there will be several different user groups, with each group wanting to complete distinct tasks on the site. The tasks they want to complete helps to identify their user journeys.

User journeys

The pathway that a user takes through the site is known as the user journey. Jumping back to the membership site scenario, the renewal process would be one user journey, and the user group taking that journey would be ‘Existing Members’. Another user group is then likely to be ‘Prospective Members’, and their journey would be the member sign up process, and so on.

Site Maps

The timing for the preparation of the site map can vary from project to project. When redesigning an existing site, it may prove useful to prepare this upfront in order to review the current site and to identify any outdated content or gaps that need to be addressed. In a new site, it may be better to prepare this later in the requirements gathering process once key pieces of content and user groups and journeys have been determined. Site maps are often iterated upon throughout the requirements gathering and discovery process before reaching a ‘final’ version for the build.

User Interface Design


A wireframe is a very pared back way to view the content for the site and understand the layout before starting work on the look and feel. Usually black and white and without imagery, the wireframe removes any potential ‘distractions’ and is a useful tool for visualising how various elements on a site or in an application relate to each other.

Site Design

This is where the magic happens. You’ve worked with the UX designer to prepare the content the site needs, determined who will use the site and how, what the site layout will be, and now it’s time to make it look great. Depending on your website provider, you may work with a dedicated User Interface designer or the UX Designer you’ve already worked with will start introducing colours, styles and imagery to give a sense of the final look and feel of the site. At this stage you’ll really start to see what the site will look like on completion, and the designer will start prototyping the functionality, so you’ll get a sense of how the site interactions will work.


At Arris, we use a design tool called Figma, which lets you view the design in the browser, and provides interactive elements to start assessing functionality. The advantage of this is that you can navigate between pages, click buttons to get to different places, view pop ups and toggle elements to get a sense of how things will work once the final site is built. Prototyping means that you can get hands on and test functionality with the look and feel of the final site, before a single line of code is written. This rapid prototyping lets you consolidate your understanding of how the site will work and provide feedback to fine tune interactions quickly and inexpensively, resulting in a more intuitive and user-friendly site.

As a minimum, good User Experience design will provide you with an organised site that users are able to navigate easily. When approached thoughtfully and applied strategically to support your users and your organisation’s objectives, it can save time and money and add genuine value to your wider business.