The History of User Experience Design

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. “ /Pearl Buck

Great design is timeless, but it’s not deprived of its history. Watch this short video to understand roots of UX Design (presentation designed in UXPin — The UX Design Platform):

User Experience Design has its roots in the ancient science of ergonomics (ἔργον, meaning “work”, and νόμος, meaning “natural laws”)which was trying to establish set of principles that were making work more convenient and efficient (e.g. Hippocrates provided a description of an optimal surgeon’s workplace. Source).

The connection between ergonomics and labor survived into the present times. In 1900 Winslow Taylor pioneered the modern optimization of work, basing on his research of the interaction between workers and their tools (probably the first example of a systematic UX research in the history).

Toyota followed in 1940's with their famous Human-Centered-Production system, which aimed at improvement of the efficiency through formation of the convenient and respectful environment for the workers. In a way Toyoyta put user intro user experience design.

The great progress on the product side of the future user experience design was made in the early 1940's, when Alan Turing formed first theoretical computer. The Theory of Computation opened the gates to the ever-growing field of computer science. I doubt you’d have your shiny 5s in the pocket if not for the work of the legendary mathematician.

In 1955, industrial designer, Henry Dreyfuss, wrote famous “Designing for people”, in which he stressed the connection between people, their experience and successful design of a product. This masterpiece is certainly one of the milestones for the birth of User Experience Design.

In the 70's the era of personal computers started to emerge. Design was present right from the beginning. Xerox Parc — famous R&D lab from Silicon Valley was responsible for e.g. concept of GUI and a computer mouse. Psychologists and engineers worked arm in arm to provide stunning experience.

Both, Apple and Microsoft, used work of Xerox Parc (which caused many controversies, especially around Microsoft’s usage of Xerox inventions) to build their amazing computing systems.

Finally in 1995, famous cognitive psychologist and designer — Don Norman, coined the term User Experience to describe the broad set of activities that his team was engaged in at Apple Computers.

Soon the term started to get career on its own and today is extremely well recognized. No wonder. Ideas contained in the term “User Experience” are well funded in the centuries of exceptional work.

And that’s the history of User Experience design. Future is in our hands.

Design Tools Radical. CEO at UXPin — the most advanced code–based design tool out there:

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