What Is User Experience?

Alyson FachaFront-end Web Developer
“You cannot NOT have a user experience” - Lou Carbone

User experience (UX) in the past has been an underrated subject of discussion. It has existed since the late 19th century during the machine age. According to Where UX Comes From, an article from uxbooth.com, user experience was conceptualized when labor activities became more efficient. The observation of workers becoming more effective with their tools was the precursor to the UX concept. The machine age philosophy pioneered ways for labor to be more productive and routinized by “pushing the boundaries of what human labor could make possible.” Because of this people began to understand the importance of user experience. The more efficient, the more profitable. The next major leap was in the early-mid 20th century, when ergonomics emerged. Ergonomics motivated people to focus on the “design of equipment and devices to best align with human capabilities.” It made logical sense to design a product based off of the ease it was for someone to interact with it.

Over time as user experience adapted and was discovered, a definition was formed. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, user experience "encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products” ( www.nngroup.com).

It is essential to understand how a user interacts with a device or product, and how design strategies can heavily influence that interaction. When coming up with new products, or even auditing preexisting ones, understanding user experience can be extremely beneficial. For example, the easier it is for a user to use a product, the more likely they are to keep using it. There are many models to help understand user experience and how it can benefit them. Corey Stern’s CUBI Model is a great example. His diagram dissects user experience into four overlapping elements which include content, user goals, business goals and interaction. By combining these elements into a model it serves multiple purposes in helping understand why user experience is invaluable. One benefit of this model is it causes creative experiences to “have the potential to engage users and provide more unique brand experiences” (Stern, uxmag.com). Design can be vital in influencing a user because it can shape the interaction that takes place. A bad design can result in a user being frustrated because they do not know how to navigate or use a product.

Furthermore, it strengthens communication between designers and the client which helps keep strategy on track. This model also simplifies complex processes by outlining all of the considerations throughout a project. For example, considering how capable a user is to follow the page flow design. Collaboration allows teams to “understand the factors involved with designing experiences when understanding different roles, assets and content required to execute a strategy.” In addition, “this understanding can help create a project plan and make it easier to delegate tasks.” Lastly, this model is beneficial because it can help identify gaps in the process. For example, a business may have thought to include goals and functionality in their product but forgot about user research. A great user experience has minimal gaps because the team has thought about every possible user interaction. To learn more about how Corey Stern’s CUBI Model works visit http://uxmag.com/articles/cubi-a-user-experience-model-for-project-success

Ultimately you cannot NOT have a user experience when a person and product are involved with each other. Understanding and implementing user experience methodologies is a great way to improve this interaction and increase success. 
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Alyson FachaFront-end Web Developer

Comments (4)

Brian MatisProduct Manager

Ever read The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman (of the Norman Nielsen Group you mentioned)? Definitely the best thing I've ever read for getting your brain into the right mindset for understanding good UX. You'll never look at a door the same way again ;-)
Since you liked that book, I would also recommend you to read "Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things" by Don Norman.
Brian MatisProduct Manager

@Ali - Thanks for the recommendation! I've actually got a copy of it on my shelf, but haven't gotten to it yet. Definitely need to move it up in my priority stack now though, since you've specifically recommended it :-)
Thank you ;) I really like that book, that helped me a lot in my education.

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