Cut through the UX jargon

How to

In this guide, we'll demystify five essential concepts that frequently crop up in UX design discussions.

In the ever-evolving field of UX design, jargon and terminology can often be a barrier for newcomers, seasoned professionals and teams working with UX design practitioners for the first time. So, let's demystify five essential concepts that frequently crop up in UX design discussions: User Journey mapping, personas, cognitive load, layers of progressive disclosure, and discovery and definition phases.

User Journey Mapping

User Journey Mapping is an indispensable tool in a UX designer's arsenal. It's the process of visualising and understanding the entire user experience as a sequence of steps or touchpoints. This technique allows designers to walk in the shoes of the user, identifying pain points, opportunities for improvement, and moments of delight. Visualisation like this helps you empathise with the user's perspective and uncover any roadblocks or areas that need enhancement.

At Yoyo, we use these most often to map out the current journey that a user might go on and point out exactly where pain-points and opportunities are in that journey. We also use these to map out the recommended journey that we are suggesting or working towards, pointing out where the changes need to happen and what they might look like.

The other reason we love user journey mapping, is because it facilitates collaboration among design teams and stakeholders, aligning everyone on the user's perspective. It's a dynamic tool that can be updated as the product evolves, ensuring a user-centred approach throughout the design process.


Personas are fictional characters that represent various user groups or segments. They are not mere stereotypes but well-researched, detailed archetypes that embody the characteristics, needs, goals, and pain points of a specific user demographic. Creating personas empowers designers to design with empathy and precision, and can be used internally by marketing teams, business teams, product teams - and really anyone, as a point of reference for new ideas.

The most critical misconception there is about personas, is that they can or should be pulled out of thin air. To craft effective personas, conduct user research, like surveys, and interviews. Gather data on user behaviours, motivations, and preferences. Then, distil this information into a few personas that encapsulate the diversity of your user base.

Personas serve as a reference point during the design process. They help in making informed decisions about features, content, and usability. By addressing the unique needs of each persona, you can create a more tailored and engaging user experience. Made up personas, will lead to incorrect assumptions being replicated across expensive work streams, which no one wants.

Cognitive Load

Cognitive Load refers to the mental effort required for a user to process and interact with a digital interface. In UX design, we aim to minimise cognitive load to create intuitive and user-friendly experiences. High cognitive load can lead to frustration and abandonment of a product or service.

To reduce cognitive load, we follow principles like the following:

  • Simplify: Streamline the user interface, removing unnecessary elements and distractions.
  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in design elements, such as buttons and navigation, to reduce the need for users to relearn how to use your product.
  • Hierarchy: Use visual hierarchy to prioritise important information and actions.
  • Feedback: Provide clear and immediate feedback to confirm user actions.
  • Progressive Disclosure: Present information in digestible chunks, revealing complexity gradually.

Layers of Progressive Disclosure

Progressive Disclosure ensures that users aren't bombarded with too much information or choices at once, making it easier for them to navigate and make choices without feeling overwhelmed.

Progressive Disclosure is a design technique that involves thinking about and presenting information or functionality in layers, allowing users to access deeper levels of content or features as they need them. It's a key strategy for managing cognitive load and simplifying complex interfaces.

Imagine an app with a settings menu. Instead of overwhelming users with a long list of options, you can implement progressive disclosure. Start with a basic view of essential settings and offer sub category options to delve deeper into more advanced settings if the user chooses to.

Discovery and Definition Phases

The Discovery and Definition Phases are critical stages in the UX design process, often the foundation upon which the entire project rests. Let’s take a brief look at each:

  • Discovery Phase: In this stage, designers and stakeholders aim to understand the project's goals, target audience, and existing challenges. This involves research, user interviews, and competitive analysis. The goal is to identify problems and opportunities.
  • Definition Phase: Once the discovery phase is complete, the definition phase begins. Here, you'll synthesise the insights gained and begin shaping the project. This includes setting clear objectives, defining user personas, and outlining the user journey. The outcome is a well-defined project scope and design direction.

These phases are essential for a user-centred approach, ensuring that designers have a deep understanding of the user's needs and a clear vision for the project's direction. Holding off definition activities until discovery has been completed means that you can ensure the user research you’ve conducted has maximum impact throughout the project.

In conclusion

Mastering these UX design concepts – user Journey mapping, personas, cognitive load, layers of progressive disclosure, and discovery and definition phases – can significantly enhance your ability to create user-centric and effective digital experiences. We hope this clears them up somewhat, we’re passionate about great UX but know it can be overwhelming to learn all the UX jargon.

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