The Ubiquity of UX
Rube Goldberg may have been on to something.
Over the course of the last three decades, the understanding and usage of the terms User Experience and User Experience Design, or UX Design, have steadily grown along with the increased presence of technology in everyday life. As the terminology has become more accepted, the processes and activities involved have matured into a studied profession with continual opportunity and value.
Many today still ask, though, what is UX Design? A more illuminating way to frame that question is instead, what isn’t UX Design?
The influential thinker and oft-described father of UX Design, Don Norman, states it most eloquently in his groundbreaking book The Design of Everyday Things. UX Design “encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” This mode of thinking applies to any physical interaction a user has, but over time has become more synonymous with digital interactions humans have with computers and other devices.
Successful UX Design not only results in user happiness, but also can lead to competitive differentiation and ultimately change the future of a company.
Every time you complete an online shopping order, navigate through a mobile application, operate an automobile, or even use a doorknob to open a door, you experience a process or system of processes designed to solve a problem with human intent. It is increasingly clear that human-centered processes in UX Design are necessary and valuable as more businesses and people rely on technology.
At its core, UX Design provides value through creative problem solving. A more in-depth description is that UX Design involves discovering, designing, and delivering value through creative processes and documentation. The end goal is to make things usable, useful, and hopefully delightful for human users. Successful UX Design not only results in user happiness, but also can lead to competitive differentiation and ultimately change the future of a company.
A delightful experience is often correlated with a positive user viewpoint toward the product or company providing the experience, which creates and fosters customer loyalty, brand recognition, and overall satisfaction. On the flip side though, sometimes a single frustrating or otherwise bad experience can lead to negative perceptions or abandonment of a product.
Companies such as Ideo, Apple, IBM, and other longtime proponents of UX Design have proven that focusing on users is key to the future of technology. Investing time and money to advance the UX profession has given these types of companies an advantage over others that are just coming around.
The best UX Design strives to make sure that a product or process is functional, usable, and enjoyable and continues to have a positive impact on everyday human life. As our world of digital interactions becomes more pervasive, connected, and technically complex, UX Design will continue to mature and embed itself in the foundation of business. It will remain a driving force in the future of product development and provide opportunities for the growing number of technological devices around us to remind us of their human makers and designers.