Defining user experience...and a welcome.
If you’re new to the field of user experience then welcome to this blog! Hopefully in the months to come there will
be plenty for you to see around here.
I thought it only seemed right to kick things off with a post that attempted to explain precisely what user experience is.
This is more difficult to articulate in words than you would expect.
I could say that it is simply about putting the user at the heart of the process, ensuring that technology, interface design, marketing and branding are
all aligned to ensure the best - and most intuitive - journey through a product.
...and whilst this is somewhat correct it doesn’t go far enough.
This is where diagrams come in. They serve a critical role in the UX community because...well, few of us are able to take away the ambiguity of UX definition when using words.
Diagrams help us overcome the challenge and they have evolved to become sophisticated representations that encapsulate the breadth of what UX is.
Here are some of the most valuable - and it has to be said some of them are a work of art in themselves:
The Top 4
1. The Honeycomb
This is considered the veteran - the stalwart of UX definition - and yet it was only produced in 2004. What can I say? It’s a relatively young industry.
It outlines the facets of User Experience, not touching on process at all, but instead connecting - and reinforcing - the terms that we should keep in mind when thinking about UX.
What I like about this is the fact that it clearly outlines that UX is NOT just about making a usable product. It has to actually be needed by it’s audience and offering some kind of intrinsic value...considerations that businesses are often guilty of forgetting/ignoring.
2. The Wheel
The next evolutionary step from the Honeycomb is the Wheel. This outlines process in addition to the key principles of UX.
It should be reviewed by starting in the middle and working your way out - i.e, thinking about value from both the business and customer’s perspective as the guiding principle, before branding out to consider phases of findability, accessibility etc.
3. Emphasising importance
An impressive schematic, this poster clearly displays the ramifications of good versus bad experience, namely that if a user walks away after a bad experience it will ultimately affect, if not prevent, the businesses ability to meet it’s business goals.
This seems obvious but this is not always universally understood - particularly by clients.
4. Putting the users at the heart of everything
Don’t be put off by the seeming complexity of the last diagram: it’s a beauty - you just have to work a little hard to take in all of the information.
The illustration focusses on the practicalities of user centred design.
Here you will see where prototyping, research, workshops and testing come into the process - and how they drive one another in ensuring the successful build of a valued and intuitive product.
These are just four of the schematics out there....there are many others that work well to tell you what UX is but hopefully these should give you some insight.
I am sure you will be thankful that I referred you to these - rather than say, presenting a 150 slide PowerPoint presentation.
That wouldn’t be a good experience after all, now would it?