Welcome to UXmatters
Published: November 3, 2005
We are very pleased to welcome you to UXmatters—a Web magazine created by and for user experience (UX) professionals. Together, we can create the premiere source of information and inspiration for the UX community.
From Human Interface to UX
At Apple® Computer in the early ’90s, I worked in what was then called human interface design. When Don Norman came to Apple, in 1993, as Vice President of Research and head of the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), he brought with him the new term user experience design. Shortly after joining Apple, he spoke to employees about user experience design. I wish I could remember his words, but I do recall coming away from his talk a convert to the idea of user experience design. What he said resonated with me.
UX design takes a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to the design of user interfaces for digital products. Depending on the product, it can integrate interaction design, industrial design, information architecture, visual interface design, instructional design, and user-centered design, ensuring coherence and consistency across all of these design dimensions. UX design defines a product’s form, behavior, and content.
Trends in UX
The advent of the World Wide Web forever changed the landscape of UX. Before the Web, a fairly small, close-knit UX community consisted mainly of people who called themselves user experience designers or user interface designers. The Web brought an influx of new people to UX. Our community expanded to include information architects and Web designers and information designers.
Today, many professionals working within the broader field of UX increasingly focus on specialized disciplines such as interaction design, information architecture, visual interface design, user research, and usability.
In addition to long-established UX organizations, we’ve recently seen the establishment of new organizations, including the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Experience Design, Information Architecture Institute (IAI), and Interaction Design Association (IxDA).
The professional organizations that support the UX community have an important role to play in bringing UX professionals the recognition and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, as the number of organizations for UX professionals proliferates, people are having to make hard choices about which memberships offer essential benefits to them and which do not. Many people are too busy in their work to attend conferences—even local meetings—or read a lot of print publications, so don’t join professional organizations at all. If they won’t be able to avail themselves of the services these organizations offer, why pay the hefty membership fees? But these organizations deserve our support—particularly for their excellent content and services on the Web, which almost everyone finds useful.
Bringing the UX Community Together
There’s now a growing awareness of a real need to pull the diverse UX community together. In the last year or so, we’ve seen the creation of UXnet by people who are committed to exploring opportunities for cooperation and collaboration among UX-related organizations and individuals. In late 2004, a BayCHI meeting on the topic “User Experience: Why Do So Many Organizations Believe They Own It?” brought together Don Norman and a panel of representatives from all of these organizations, where we came to the obvious conclusion that we all share ownership of UX. A similar meeting subsequently took place in New York City, where the discussion focused on collaboration. At CHI 2005, representatives of most of the above-mentioned UX organizations met at the Development Consortium (DevCon) to discuss how practitioners and organizations can work together, and there was a lively debate about how CHI can meet the needs of both practitioners and academics. And now the Usability Professionals’ Association has organized World Usability Day, a worldwide series of events promoting awareness of the benefits of usability engineering and user-centered design. The UX community is becoming a community of collaboration, working together to create opportunities for knowledge-sharing, networking, and career development.
It’s our goal to provide a venue where people working in UX can come together to discuss important issues, share information, and work collaboratively to create a resource that will benefit us all. We hope to foster cooperation and collaboration among people in all UX professions. Working together, we can ensure that business leaders understand the importance of designing good user experiences and have a greater impact on the quality of digital products.
While there are some excellent Web magazines, online journals, newsletters, and blogs that cover certain aspects of UX design, most existing Web publications focus predominantly on specialties such as Web design, information architecture, usability, technical communications, graphic design, or industrial design; or on UX design news. Many are from professional organizations or academia and are available only to members or paying subscribers. There is currently no Web magazine that provides full coverage of all disciplines that contribute to UX design, nor do existing magazines tackle the issues of strategies for digital product design or UX design management.
Our goal for UXmatters is to cover a broad spectrum of topics about UX strategy, design, and usability for a diverse range of digital products—from application programs and Web applications to mobile devices and consumer electronics products. We want to involve people in all UX professions, including
- UX strategy
- UX management
- UX design
- interaction design
- industrial design
- information architecture
- visual interface design
- Web design
- information design
- instructional design
- user-centered design
Each of these UX specialties has an important role to play in digital product design and, working in concert, we have a much greater potential for making a real impact on our companies’ products. It’s important to communicate the value of UX design and strategy to business leaders, so they’ll view good user experience as essential to the success of their digital products. Through publishing reviews of digital products, we also have an opportunity to communicate about user experience and usability to the general public, who are consumers of the products we design. We can make UXmatters the place where everyone can come to learn about user experience.
Please join us in making UXmatters be all that it needs to be to serve our diverse UX community well. Volunteer, write articles, or join the discussions on our blog. Make UXmatters your own magazine.
If you’re a business person who wants to learn what user experience professionals can do for your company or a consumer who wants to know how to choose products that are both useful and usable, we hope you’ll both enjoy and benefit from reading UXmatters.