If you spend even a little time reading about tech you know there are always trendy buzzwords skulking around, looking to leech money out of naive or desperate pockets. Six months ago, after having my head in the sand for the better part of a year, I belatedly noticed a big push to extol the virtues of UX Design (aka User eXperience Design), which currently seems to be the focus of a number of companies that service the technology industry.
What is UX Design, or UXD, or UX, or Design? Well, that’s a good question. The broad answer is that it’s the art and quasi-science of how users interact with whatever you’ve got, though these days it’s primarily discussed in terms of software. If you have a product, and it can be used — or even just experienced — then by definition there are design elements intrinsic to that relationship whether you have paid much attention to them or not. If you make your living based on the effectiveness of that relationship, then UX Design is critical to your lifeblood. Or so the argument goes.
If that also sounds like a bunch of conceptual hooey I wouldn’t disagree, but don’t take it from me. Here’s the ISO explaining what the user experience encompasses.
According to the ISO definition, user experience includes all the users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use.
As you can see, UX Design can cover just about anything you want it to cover, meaning it’s a wonderfully pliable concept if you’re trying to terrorize people into hiring you to solve all those UX problems they didn’t know they had. In that sense UXD is the new SEO because it can be used to instill fear, particularly in the hearts of people who don’t understand it. (And just in time, too, given that SEO seems to have run its cash-cow course.) [ Read more ]