What is UX?
User Experience (UX) is a term for a user’s overall satisfaction level when using your product or system. If it’s a good experience, they’re happy. If it’s a bad experience, your customers don’t come back. And they tell their friends … and Google.
UX = sum of a series of interactions
User Experience (UX) represents the perception left in anyone’s mind after a series of interactions between people, devices and events — or a combination thereof. “Series” is the operative word.
Some interactions are active: getting out of the rain during a picnic.
Some interactions are passive: watching a beautiful sunset will trigger the limbic system to release dopamine (a chemical reward).
Some interactions are secondary to the ultimate experience: the food tastes good because the chef has chosen quality ingredients and prepared them well. The ingredients are of good quality because the farmer tends his fields. The crop interacted well with the rain that year . . .
All interactions are open to subjective interpretation — some people do not like celery or sunsets. Remember, perception is always true in the mind of the perceiver. If you think sunsets are depressing, there is little we can do to convince you otherwise. However, this is why designers often fall back on “best practice” — most people respond positively to the sunsets.
UX design = combine three types of activities
Designing a “user experience,” therefore, represents the conscious action:
- coordinate interactions that can be checked (select food ingredients, training waiters, design and programming buttons)
- cognition interactions that are beyond our control (uncomfortable seats in a 100-year old theater, lack of fresh produce in winter, low hanging clouds that hide the sunset.)
- reduce the negative interactions (providing tents as emergency shelters for outdoor events in case of rain, making sure the restaurant seating next to a noisy kitchen door is the last to be filled, put in an extra break, so people can stretch their legs).
A good user experience designer must be able to see both the forest and the trees. This means that user experience has implications that go far beyond usability, visual design and physical affordances. As UX designers, we orchestrate a complex series of interactions.