Just What is UX Anyway?

Working with design & authoring software all day, every day for many, many years got me thinking that great UX is just the latest buzzword for user interface design. We all appreciate a well-designed website, a beautiful, immersive game environment, and a computer program that is intuitively designed so you can get started right away with it.

But all of this assumes that UX only takes place only within the confines of my fine LCD monitor.

So, it was eye opening for me, to say the least, to hear presentations at UXWEEK.com on creating engaging UX:

  • A Chicago-based theater troupe that takes the philosophy of "try hard, fail fast, try hard again" to engage their audiences with a continual stream of new plays
  • The design of Zipcar's UX, from initial customer contact, through rental/usage of the car, and then follow up
  • A game designer's perspective on the future of happiness through UX
  • Knowing demographics and your user's requirements are not sufficient to design great UX…the essential starting point, yes, but not sufficient

I'll write more about some of these sessions in future posts (assuming that my editor lets me!).

What this tells me is:

  • UX is about engagement with your customers and that engagement is based on communication in one form or another, maybe on a computer screen, but just as likely not
  • You, whether you're a technical writer, a user interface designer, or a performer create that user experience or part of it
  • Without your communication skills, your user's experience will be less engaging and your product, whatever it may be, will be less successful.

So, there you have it. UX is way bigger than I thought and there are many, many more people working on UX in ways that I never thought of. Seems that's the reason they send us to conferences, no?

As a footnote, the UX Week site is now posting slide decks and other session materials from the conference. Go check them out!

Ed Meadows' face

Ed Meadows
Product Manager, Expression