What is User Experience (UX)?

I have been asked many times to describe or define User Experience, or what is commonly known as UX. While there are many definitions out there on the web, I haven’t found one yet that really resonated with me. So I figured I would take a few minutes share how I define UX.

The terms “user” and “experience” together are somewhat vague to folks. However the word, experience, is really what it’s about. UX is about designing experiences. Those experiences can be digital, analog, virtual, written or spoken. I use the practices of UX in many things, not just in web or application design.

Another thing I tell folks when describing what we do in UX is around the practices we use. I like to think of it as the intersection of science and creativity. We use scientific methods like research, testing, and documenting to inform us the best direction of a solution. We also tap into the creative side of our minds to weave together things like color, typography, animation, layout, and emotion.

UX practitioners look to understand peoples’ problems or needs when it comes to something, collaboratively design solutions for that something, then validate those solutions to make sure they are effective.

UX NotebookThe testing methods that we could use range from drawing something on a piece of paper and asking someone to look at it and tell us whether it makes sense or not to having someone interact with a detailed version of the solution performing simple tasks which show us how effective parts of the solution are or are not.

One of the reasons why I enjoy this field so much is that act of validation. After a while of designing solutions and getting feedback many many times about whether something works or not, you begin to remove yourself from your the solution that you or your team designed. Designers some times become attached to the things we design. That feedback about something working or not pushes us to come up with better and better solutions, never (hopefully) settling for “just good enough” or “just get it out the door”. Over time we fall in love with the idea of how good can we make this solution more so than look at this thing I designed.

Featured image source: Tim Gouw via Unsplash

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