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May 17, 2019

Working in Wireless: UX Designer .

Working in Wireless: UX Designer

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CTIA Melissa Gallant
Melissa Gallant
Creative Director

Imagine that you have just walked up to an unfamiliar door. The style of handle, the placement of the handle, and everything about its design says “Push to open.” Except when you push the door, it doesn’t budge, and you smack into it. You feel embarrassed and hope no one saw what happened as you wipe your nose print off the glass. Only then do you notice the sign that says “Pull to open.”

This is an example of bad UX design.

“UX” is short for User Experience Design. UX professionals design the way that humans interact with something. That “something” could be anything: a website, the dashboard of a car, a TV remote, elevator buttons, an app, a connected wearable, or a smartphone.

Like any good designers, UX designers are curious—but with a side of science. They engage in multiple rounds of research, prototyping, and testing while carefully controlling variables so they can better understand how all the elements of an interface work together. The ultimate goal of UX is to create frictionless and intuitive interaction between humans and design.

Please step away from the computer. One of the best ways to explore UX design is with markers and paper.
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Please step away from the computer. One of the best ways to explore UX design is with markers and paper.

In the world of wireless, one key application for UX design is determining how users should interact with phone screens. For example, designers make important decisions about where buttons are placed—today’s large phone screens and the popularity of one-handed usage makes button placement particularly important. A UX designer will also dictate how different swiping motions on your screen change what you see. This piece of UX design has even been made part of pop culture as online dating apps ask users to “swipe right” on their potential soulmate.

Advancements in technology present new and exciting challenges for UX designers, and 5G is no exception. 5G will be able to connect 100 times more devices up to 100 times faster, and low latency means we’ll be able to connect in real time. UX designers are already shaping the new and innovative ways we’ll interact with next-generation wireless technology. Here are a few examples of the future-looking design projects they’re exploring:

  • Wearable design. Wirelessly-enabled wearables are becoming smaller and more unobtrusive—with much smaller screens. UX designers are working on the challenges that come from having such a small display, including solving issues like identifying the most intuitive way to check your heart rate on your smartwatch while jogging—or even swimming.
  • Product accessibility. CTIA’s members have long focused on making mobile wireless connectivity available to everyone and accessible design is a key piece of that effort. UX designers are already planning for the smartphone accessibility features of tomorrow, including the use of eye movement to direct your device instead of touch.
  • Voice technology. Voice-directed features are becoming more and more popular with the growth of wirelessly-connected virtual assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Voice tools move UX off the screen entirely, presenting new challenges for UX designers as they seek to solve how users will explore and navigate menu options using only their voice.

One of the most important traits of a successful UX designer is to not be afraid of failure. If every prototype succeeds, what have you learned? When users run into problems, UX designers get to work uncovering new solutions. It’s that kind of critical and creative thinking that can lead to the kind of groundbreaking design advancements–like the touchscreen designs of the mid-2000s or the foldable device prototypes introduced this year–that have the potential to change an industry.

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