UX Design: An Origin Story

What is the history UX Design?

UX stands for user experience. UX design is a rapidly growing field with many open jobs now available to be filled. What exactly is UX design and how did it originate?

Many claim that Donald Norman was the first person to introduce user experience design as a field. He wrote the book The Design of Everyday Things that provides many examples of the role that product designers play in determining how easy the product is to understand and use.

However, before the formal field of UX design was labelled there were definitely instances of UX design long before. For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s “kitchen nightmare” circa 1430 was clearly an implementation of user experience design (http://blog.invisionapp.com/a-brief-history-of-user-experience/). The Duke of Milan asked da Vinci to design his kitchen for an important feast. Da Vinci designed conveyer belts and a sprinkler system in efforts to innovate and make the kitchen efficient. The implementation wasn’t optimal and malfunctions occurred. Yet, this was an early attempt at user experience design.

In the early 1900s Taylorism, the Industrial Revolution, and Henry Ford ushered in new technologies to compartmentalize steps in the supply chain. This would forever alter the relationship that laborers had with their tools.

In 1948, Toyota examined assembly workers’ contributions, thus bringing the role of human interaction with technology to the forefront of the production system.

In 1955, Henry Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People. He introduced the idea that a product was designed well if it was able to delight the user. In 1966, Walt Disney furthered this concept focusing on how technology could be used to improve the lives of people via Disney World.

Don Norman labelled himself as the first user experience professional in 1995, introducing the field of user experience. Today, we know it as a formal field that is prominent, especially in the technology sector.