UX vs. CX

Is there a difference? Should there be a difference?

Yea, more or less.

I was talking to a friend recently and he was asking me what I did. I told him I was a “UX-er.” He thought for a moment and said, “Does that mean you work with customers? As in customer experience?”

Then I thought for a moment, “Do I do customer experience too?”

Well in a way yes. The user IS the customer, ideally. Yet I wonder how many of us are designing for ourselves. That’s the easiest way to design in reality. We create wires, prototypes, designs based on what we like. We may even be a user of the product we are creating! Is there anything wrong with that? Not necessarily, but it leads to a slippery slope of dog-fooding and excluding our users. We created personas to solve this issue though, right? Hopefully.

Am I an artist or a UX-er? Am I both? Who am I UX-ing for?

Artists Create. UX-ers Iterate.

The hardest part about design is oftentimes iteration. If you come at all from a art/design background you may know what I am talking about — you created something and for somebody to tell you what’s wrong with it is insulting. Yet it’s this very process that leads us to create better and more efficient designs for the users. When artists create, they are doing it “for the users.” But also they are releasing their creative instincts upon a canvas for the world to see. There’s no plan to iterate and discuss how to make it better based upon how people see the artwork. The artist, in this case, dictates the UX and CX. Take it or leave it. Love it or hate it. It’s my creation.

This is vastly different than how we should be creating products as UX-ers. In fact, it may literally be the opposite! We are actually designing and building with the idea that we want people (users, customers) to dictate the experience. One of my favorite quotes about UX:

Design what they want, build what they use.

That’s our job! We make assumptions on what designs the user wants, once we get some feedback we can see where our assumptions are right/wrong. From there we begin to build more efficiently and create an unparalleled experience.

This is why I wrote that article entitled, “Why you need a UX-er.” When we start adding words like designer and developer to the title we begin to focus in on the minute details of the work. At large companies, you can have a UX writer, designer, developer, architect, et al. In small companies or companies exploring UX, you need a UX-er, essentially a generalist who can cover all of the above as you invest in UX. We need companies to be investing largely into UX/CX because we all care about our experiences!

Iterate this!

The auto industry, for example, seems to not care about UX or CX. The in-dash nav systems are notoriously awful! How many of us just default to our phones? Ask Uber and Lyft drivers how often they use their car nav. (I understand they have specified apps that do things pertaining to their jobs, but it’s because car navs can’t wirelessly upgrade or be added to.) How many years have we had car nav systems, and they still look like it’s a 1997 geocities website?!

Somebody must be an artist at these places because they are essentially saying, “Here is my art! Love it!” Aaannd we all hate it because we have to use a knob to enter in an address!

Sadly, we still buy cars and pay the $2500+ upgrade for a subpar system. This is where UX and CX should be merging and working together! This is the place where UX-ers should be saying, “I am also a CX-er!” Our vast understanding of the users should be informing the customer experience too. The UX should be bleeding into the CX. We cannot have a great UX online and a subpar CX in person. This is why Apple exploded so magnificently. They recognized that UX and CX should be working together if not in perfect unison. The hardware and software are linked. There is really NO difference between UX and CX. At least there shouldn’t be! Yes, there may be metrics and specificities that will differ — but the goal should be the same: providing the user/customer with the best experience possible and making it better.

Our user experience should help us represent our companies to the world. Our companies should be iterating and getting feedback from the customers as to how we can make the experience better — online or in person. This mentality should be in every employee as well. Back to our auto industry analogy, what if every salesman had a UX mentality? Not only would they get better at sales, they would increase the CX exponentially.

As I have said before, UX is a negotiation. A negotiation is only good if both parties perceive a win. Every UX should be a win-win situation! Car sales increase at the same rate as customer satisfaction.


Back to my original thought/question, “Do I do customer experience too?” If I am doing my job as a UX-er properly- yes! We should be striving to make sure that UX and CX are not separate but in fact together. My assumption is that if you jumped in and helped with CX your skills as a UX-er would increase and your company would greatly benefit. That sounds like a win-win to me.

P.S. Here’s Don Norman’s definition of UX, let me know if that sounds like it encompasses CX too. :)

How can you make UX/CX work together where you work? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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