THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF UX DESIGN
Today, UX Design is an exploding field, but the first known instance of a job title including the term “user experience” was not until 1995 (it belonged to Don Norman, who worked for Apple, which we’ll get to later).
So how did this field get so far so fast?
Well, while the term “UX Design” might be new, the principles behind it (largely, designing products and technology with users in mind) have been developing for years.
Let’s take a look:
Frederick Winslow Taylor, a mechanical engineer and consultant, published The Principles of Scientific Management based on his years of previous research. This work focused on optimal efficiency in workplaces, as determined by interactions between workers and their tools.
Toyota shed further light on the importance of the interaction between workers and technology with their famous production system, which focused on workers’ needs and encouraged them to contribute heavily to the creative process with advice and constructive criticism.
Henry Dreyfuss, an industrial designer, published his monumental work Designing for People, in which he stressed the importance of putting people and their needs first when designing products.
As personal computers developed, Xerox became famous for their research division, PARC, which revolutionized the way in which individuals interacted with technology. Examples include the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, technologies without which it’s almost impossible to imagine computing as we know it today.
Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and engineer, published The Design of Everyday Things, which became one of the primary modern design texts, arguing that function should take precedence over form when designing products.
When he joined Apple in the 1990s, Norman asked that his title be “User Experience Architect”, which, as was stated earlier, is the first known usage of term in the context of a job title.
The outstanding user experience inherent in Apple’s monumental products set the bar for the importance of user-centered principles in modern technology, and other tech companies followed suit. User experience rapidly evolved, and continues to evolve, into the multi-faceted field we now know it as today.
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