Roots of UX

Who first coined the term UX?

When you Google, Quora, Bing and so on for “Roots of the UX”, you will discover that many sources point to Don Norman being considered the first UX Professional. It was he who had been given the credit. Still, even he admits that the definition can be misinterpreted. However, its foundation was set way back.

Who is he?

Donald Norman is who coined the term User Experience in the 90’s. He wrote classics like The Design of Everyday Things, The Design of Future Things and Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) every day things. At the time, he was working as Vice President on the Product Design team at Apple. During an interview he mentioned, “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interference, the physical interaction, and the manual.” -Norman

How consistent is the definition of UX today as it were back then?

Since then the term widely spread, so much that it is starting to lose its meaning. User experience, human centered design, usability; all those things even affordances begin to enter the vocabulary and no longer have meaning. People use them often without even asking WHY, what the words mean, its origin and history, or even what it’s about.” “UX is a whole system, in short it is a whole process in which UX designers get immersed in order to find out the best solutions for a problem or to discover ways to constantly improve products and/or services”.-Norman

How many disciplines are there today?

Too many. What exists now is a plethora of Disciplines teaching what to perform or how to apply UX. Seriously check this out:

And Before then? Was User Experience a thing? Was it defined?

Yes. UX can be tracked way back. But it slowly gained its true definition over the years. The question is still popular and often asked and still generating many interesting ideas and definitions. UX (User Experience) is the general attitude and emotional feedback that user has on different stages of using the product. In terms of digital products, such as websites or applications, UX is a comprehensive term involving all the possible stages of user engagement. Keep scrolling down.

A Brief Timeline of User Experience Design

Applied Ergonomic trends of Trends in Ancient Greece- 5th Century BC

Applied Ergonomics in ancient Greece was most evident in the designs of public places. When you look at park benches the notches and curves are fitted for a moving person to sit in. Plays were so long that individuals needed to re adjust to regain blood flow.
A few centuries later (Spoken with a french accent).

Taylorism Human Tools Interaction-1900

A theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, and labor productivity. Leading to a transformation of craft production into mass production; and knowledge transfer between workers and from workers into tools, processes, and documents.

Alun Turing Theory of Computation-1940

An English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist. He was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science.
Also played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Movie Imitation game.

Toyota Production System-1948

An efficient system that comprises its management philosophy and practices. The main objectives of the TPS are to design out overburden (muri) and inconsistency (mura), and to eliminate waste (muda). The most significant effects on process value delivery are achieved by designing a process capable of delivering the required results smoothly; by designing out (inconsistency).

Dreyfuss, Designing for People-1955

An American industrial designer who received worldwide recognition for numerous designs. His design philosophy was based on applied common sense and scientific principles resulting in significant contributions to human factor analysis and consumer research.

XeroX Parc R&D-1970

Xerox PARC has been the inventor and incubator of many elements of modern computing in the contemporary office work place.

Personal Computer IBM- 1981

The generic term “personal computer” was in use before 1981, applied as early as 1972 to the Xerox PARC’s Alto, but because of the success of the IBM Personal Computer, the term “PC” came to mean more specifically a desktop microcomputer compatible with IBM’s PC products.

Apple Macintosh-1984

This was the company’s first mass-market personal computer featuring an integral graphical user interface and mouse.


Microsoft had worked with Apple Computer to develop applications for Apple’s January 1984 original Macintosh, the first mass-produced personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) that enabled users to see user friendly icons on screen.

The Internet-1990

A new backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks.[2] The linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s marks the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet.
We all love it.

Don Norman-User Experience Design-1995

And we are back to Don! In his book The Design of Everyday Things, Norman uses the term “user-centered design” to describe design based on the needs of the user, leaving aside what he deems secondary issues like aesthetics.

Iphone & The Mobile Revolution-2007

The user interface is built around the device’s multi-touch screen, including a virtual keyboard. The iPhone has Wi-Fi and can connect to cellular networks. An iPhone can shoot video…And you know the rest.
What will we design next?

In summary

I would describe UX design as the complex design process which is concentrated actually on the experience that user obtains in the process of interaction and using your product and ideas how to make it positive. Why is it important? Because positive emotions and experiences make people happy, and happy satisfied users are those who are going to get back to your product and use it again growing its impact and popularity. And over the years we as a human race have figured this out for ourselves and others.