What Is User Experience?
Discussions about the term user experience generally focus on its scope, highlighting the fact that designing what is on a computer or device screen is only one part of a user’s total experience. Good UX practice comprises many things, including user research, usability testing, and iterative design and development, but many UX designers get involved in aspects of the product development process that are outside of design, including requirements definition and functional testing.
More importantly, their work may influence other customer touchpoints, ranging from ensuring that customers can interact with elements whose design is consistent—for example, visual consistency across online and offline components—to influencing broader business processes. UX designers are often able to take a broader view than colleagues who are working on just one aspect of a problem or process and, therefore, are able to identify the need for change and positively influence change across their organization.
To illustrate this, let’s think about an organization’s contact information that appears on a Web page. At a superficial level, a UX designer chooses to present the information in a way that makes it easy for a user to find and understand. At a slightly deeper level, the designer might choose to align the visual presentation of this contact information online and offline to achieve greater brand consistency. Going deeper still, the designer might ask questions of stakeholders within the organization to understand whether the contact strategy that the organization is adopting is the most effective way to address the problem and might test alternative solutions with users to build a business case for or against the strategy.
As user experience has become an integral part of the way more and more organizations work, designers are now applying much the same mindset that they bring to the design of user interfaces to other customer touchpoints and organizational processes—all under the banner of customer experience or, more recently, service design. These design disciplines typically take a broader view of the ways people interact with organizations—with the product or service user interface being just one small, though important element.