User Experience or UX is ‘the next big thing’ (here, here, or here). Actually, it was the next big thing last year, and should be happening now. But more than one year into the next big thing, and where are we now with UX?
[pullquote]“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” – Don Norman [/pullquote]By the way, UX was not invented one year’ ago, but several. The term was first coined by Don Norman, from the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, who declared that “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
Also, UX originally was defined much wider and much more user oriented compered to what currently seems to be the accepted scope and target. At the moment, UX seems directly linked to interactive products. For example, Smashing Magazine declares UX as: User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels when interfacing with a system. Also, UX appears to have shifted to the designer’s point of view, i.e. how to create User Experience, uxdesign defines User Experience Design “to refer to the judicious application of certain user-centered design practices, a highly contextual design mentality, and use of certain methods and techniques that are applied through process management to produce cohesive, predictable, and desirable effects in a specific person, or persona (archetype comprised of target audience habits and characteristics). All so that the affects produced meet the user’s own goals and measures of success and enjoyment, as well as the objectives of the providing organisation.” And here, again, more from a designer’s point of view, usability.gov defines User experience (UX) as having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. The accompanying model shows (design) tools relevant when
[pullquote]Donald Morman’s original definition of UX actually was quite good. Why not stick to that?[/pullquote]
Let me add to the confusion. Or maybe try to remove it a bit. My interest is in framing it a bit more holistic, actually, trying to argue that Donald Morman’s original definition of UX actually was quite good. Why not stick to that?
Take this example a few years ago from Optimizely. It has changed in the mean time. With the platinum plan, you get the CEO’s private phone number. That makes me smile. Smile is good.
Or this example, the key-card holder from hotel Geroldswil. Again a ‘boss’ thingy. This was a card with house rules accompanying the hotel key-card. They show humour. For example ‘The housekeeping lady gets very upset if you smoke in your room’ and ‘..need to rent a police car or just talk to someone, talk to the boss of the hotel’. Again, a grin, a faint smile even, something I remember and share. If only the shower wasn’t so terrible, I would definitely would try the hotel again, just because of that description.
Point is the UX actually covers more than interactive media. UX covers all aspects where the user or client gets in contact with the company.
Apple – naturally – has understood this very well, and took their brand and design thinking to retail when creating their Apple stores and in the process reinvented the use of glass in architecture and the glass industry as a whole. Good read; Apple by CLOG, explaining how apple’s flagship stores drives retail design, and in the process revised the glass industry.[pullquote]Apple by CLOG, explaining how apple’s flagship stores drives retail design, and in the process revised the glass industry.[/pullquote]
To what extend a company’s brand or corporate identify differs from the user experience you might ask? Are the mirrors? Since experience refers to ‘an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.’ and since ‘a brand‘ is a distinguishing symbol, mark, logo, name, word, sentence or a combination of these items that companies use to distinguish their product from others in the market [i.e. recognisable to the individual user] it follows that any impression perceived by the user as distinguishable or unique, contributes to the brand or corporate identity. UX seems to be at minimum to be part of the Brand.
UX goes beyond the product or artefact, and also is impacted by the people whom the user is in contact with (human resources) and by the content that is the user is exposed to. I tried to summarise it in the following overview [download here]
The UX is influenced by any one of these elements, or any of its combinations.
As individual elements,
- Content; Any content you produce adds to the user experience. This can be carefully designed brochures, but also quick;y drafted emails and notes. Take the examples mentioned before. Even the pricing schema adds.
- Artefacts; artefacts such as applications and interactive media are becoming the first contact with a user or client, and form the basis. A hundred years ago, the first contact with a company may have been the sales person or representative. Now it is the App logo in the App store.
- Human Resources; slowly becoming indirectly important, moving from the first line of contact to the second line as more and more applications are taking over the first contact a client or user has with a company. Still, it is not to be underestimated; products are still made by people
- Content and Human Resources come together in any situation were there is a client contact without support by an artefact, like for example the front office.
- Content and Artefacts come together in the non-human controlled channels, like web-sites (Web1.0), apps and print work such as brochures.
- Human Resources and Artefacts come together whenever a client meeting is about an artefact, such as the support desk.
And all combined occurs in situations where artefacts, content and people come together in harmony to meet with a user, such as sales meetings, sales presentations etc.
Knowing UX covers more aspects than ‘just the interactive device’ does not mean that we have to address all aspects when designing an artefact. But like with Osterwalder’s business model, it often is helpful to have a bigger picture so you are aware of what you are focussing on, and can decide what not to focus on.