UX vs XD … Users vs Humans

Ashleigh Bell
May 24, 2017 · 3 min read

With the ever evolving world of design and technology you always need to be up to date with the latest concepts and understand the newest terminology. So this, together with a user experience background and a keen interest in museum design, started a debate. This debate led to a question, which evidently has been asked by many: What exactly is the difference between user experience design and experience design?

So, where to start…
Let’s start by defining what design actually means.

There are many design definitions out there, but the simplest one would be: Design is a method used to solve problems — solving visual or physical problems. The function always remains the same but design can be executed in many different ways.

Just like the definitions of design, the design discipline spectrum can be a vast expanse of terminology which can make you feel like you’re traveling through space, passing the millions of galaxies with trillions of stars therein. So saying this, let’s have a look at 3 top level ‘groups’ of design.

Graphic design
Graphic designers speak visual. They create and combine symbols, images and text to represent ideas and messages. Its application is to everything visual. Have a look around you, you’ll see just how much graphic designers influence your world. From street signs, to brand logo’s, to those generic annoying emails you receive from companies you never want to hear from. Graphic designers work on a variety of media ranging from print to web.

Interaction design
Interaction designers speak digital, systems and services. They create software and interfaces that people can experience to achieve a specific goal. Interaction design is heavily focused on satisfying the needs and desires of the people who will be using the product. Within interaction design we find two subfields, user interface design and user experience design

User interface design is the design of interfaces to maximise the usability and experience the user has. The ultimate goal is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible.

User experience design is the process of enhancing user’s satisfaction with a product by improving usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in interacting with the product.

Lastly, Industrial design
Industrial designers create physical products designed for mass-consumption. Form and function are at its core all the while ensuring connection to the product, user and the environment.

To sum it all up, a graphic designers work is meant to be looked at, an interaction designers work is supposed to help people experience or manipulate software to achieve their goals and an industrial designers work is to ensure connection of the product, user and environment, while never losing form or function.

Now that we know this, let’s get back to the question asked in the beginning, what is the difference between user experience design and experience design?

Comparing the two by definition would be:

Experience design is the practice of creating positive human outcomes through levels of engagement and satisfaction that users get from a product or service relevant to their needs and environment.

And:

User experience design is the process of enhancing user’s satisfaction with a product by improving usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in interacting with the product.

Now comes the big question: What exactly is the difference? Well, most say that it’s a debate on semantics. User experience design has to do with technology encompassing Human Computer Interaction (HCI) but seldom to do with spaces / environments, human to human communication etc. Whereas experience design could potentially include technology but generally takes more elements into account. E.g: technology, spatial, physical objects.

Tedde Van Gelderen adds a bit of embellishment to the definition of experience design: “It’s all encompassing, there’s an emotion to it, it’s not just looking at software and systems. [It takes into account] tangible and intangible elements.

Some examples to understand the difference:
Banking App — user experience design
E-commerce site — user experience design
In-flight — experience design
Car showroom / dealership — experience design
Adobe Creative Cloud — user experience design
Museum — experience design

In Short,

The key to understanding the difference is that a user is someone who uses a digital product. Therefore, a user experience designer focuses on digital whereas an experience designer cross pollinates between the physical world and the digital world.

So there you have it.

QDivision

Inspiration to consider, from Q Division. We find game-changing insights and transform ambitious concepts into innovative digital products and ventures.

Ashleigh Bell

Written by

QDivision

QDivision

Inspiration to consider, from Q Division. We find game-changing insights and transform ambitious concepts into innovative digital products and ventures.

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