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What is UX, really?

ksd. blog | What is UX, really? image: Enniz Bit
image: Enniz Bit

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a hard time explaining UX to others.

I’ll also admit that my definition of UX changes, depending on who I’m talking to.

Turns out I’m not alone. If you run a search for “what is UX,” you’ll find a bazillion definitions, none of which agree on what UX is.

Which is understandable. UX is a relatively new discipline that just so happens to be tied to tech, meaning it will continue to evolve alongside of and in service of it. So what I’m about to say may be irrelevant a year from now.

Hey, welcome to UX.

Still, there’s gotta be a working definition that everyone can relate to.

Well, before I get into that, let me talk about what UX is not:

UX ≠ UI

Many associate UX with just the visuals. And yes, visuals play an important role in UX, but it’s not the only thing to UX. As you learn more about it and incorporate it into your workflows, you’ll find that there are many things that contribute to a product’s overall experience, visuals being one of them.

Okay, here’s a nice definition by the Nielsen Norman Group. Many UX-ers like to point to this one:

“User Experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

Along with a crazy fun one that went viral a few years back:

ksd. blog | What is UX, really? image: @ed_lea

image: @ed_lea

Both are great. But if I had to choose, it would be this:

In my humble opinion, this is the real world, practical, honest-to-goodness definition of what User Experience is — that intersection between user needs and business needs. And as you continue to make UX a core practice within your organization, you may find yourself in a constant back-and-forth between the two.

Users are indeed your top priority, but you also need to remain rooted in the business side of things, which is important, though not as important as your users. Unless, of course, you’re not meeting your business goals.

See what I mean by the back-and-forth?

I can already see you jumping out of your chair: “Yes! That’s EXACTLY what it feels like!”

If not, you will soon enough, at which point you’ll say: “Yep, Kitty said it would be like this.”

Until next time,
K