An Overview of UX

So what exactly is User Experience (UX) Design?

I found myself asking myself this question when I first stumbled across this field and it seemed like there was no short comprehensive answer; the topic of UX was simply too vast, broad, and complex to be quickly summed in a few sentences. So perhaps providing a general overview about the field is the best way to explain it.

According to a study from the Oxford Journal Interacting With Computers:

The goal of UX Design in business is to “Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease or use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product”

In simpler terms, UX design is about the process of creating products, whether they are digital or physical, that are intuitive, helpful, and easy to use and interact with. It’s about designing with the end user in mind by asking questions like how can I make this easier for the user? How can I make this user interaction better? Less intrusive? It’s about making a product that, as Steve Krug puts it in his book Don’t Make Me Think, “A person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing to accomplish something without it being more trouble than it’s worth.

When people refer to UX, most of the time they are referring to its application to web, mobile, and desktop products, but it’s not only confined to these products the UX field actually encompasses far more.

Architecture involves building a user experience in spatial form, industrial design involves crafting a user experience for a physical product, visual design involves creating an end product that aesthetically pleasing and delivers a clear message that is able to be easily understood by an audience. Even beyond these 3 fields UX covers so much more, including information architecture, interaction design, sound design, and even dining experiences! All of these fields require focus on the user and how they use product.

It was Don Norman, who first coined the term UX, describes user experience as a term that “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, it’s services, and it’s products.”

Norman explains “I invented the term (user experience design) 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 interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

Despite there being so many fields that UX encompasses they all have a single common focus ; the user. It’s about providing the user with an experience that is pleasant and enjoyable and the only way to do that is to ask the right questions every step of the design process to figure out all of the user’s wants, needs, and pain points; even the ones that they are unaware of.

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