(what is a) User Experience

  • User experience (UX or UE) involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature because it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing circumstances and new innovations. As defined on Wikipedia.

I find this a bit confining and misleading.

To hyper define User Experience as completely related to computers is – well – limiting. I believe that any form of communication is, on some level, a user experience. Whether it be a business card or poster, retail outlet or wayfinding. Any time a user has to engage and react to information is a user experience.

When you are looking up that business card for that guy you meet – user experience. All the way.

The act of identifying the card (shape, colour, typeface) is the beginning, but is not remotely the end of the experience. How is the information presented – how easy (or difficult) was it to get the information you required;

  • Phone Number
  • Title
  • Address
  • E-mail

That fact that user experience has been a strong part of design (all disciplines) needs to be considered when looking at User Experience in the modern, computer realm. Understanding how people move through a space, how they retrive information, retain information, etc. bodes well in considering the dynamic aspect of screen design. I’ll call it screen design because saying computer, tablet, mobile, etc. becomes too cumbersome. User Experience in today’s emerging markets can greatly improve with the Disney (Alcoa-originated) approach to problem-solving – Imagineers. A group – blended together from different areas of expertise meant to push the limits of thinking (engineers to poets, designers to psychologists, etc.).

Too often screen design can get hand-cuffed to either the technical or design prowess of teams. But expanding teams to include secondary thinking can only improve the process.

What skill-set would you like to see added to computer-based user experience teams/projects? 


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