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(from the archives) What is UX, really?

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

Fun fact: I know UX.

I no longer take on UX projects, but it has a way of influencing my work, even now. As they say, what customers are really paying for is the experience of using/owning/interacting with the thing just they paid for.

Can I get an amen?

At any rate, here’s a post about UX that I wrote a little while back.

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Between you and me, I have a hard time explaining UX (User Experience) to folks outside of UX.

And my definition of UX changes, depending on who I’m talking to.

Turns out I’m not alone. If you search “what is UX,” you’ll find a bazillion definitions that kinda sound the same, but also different, and a tad nonsensical.

Which is understandable. UX is still a relatively new discipline that’s still closely tied to tech. Meaning it will continue to evolve and change alongside it. So what I’m about to say may be irrelevant a year from now.

Hey, welcome to UX.

That being said, there’s gotta be a working definition everyone can relate to.

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

UX ≠ UI

Many associate User Experience with User Interface. And yes, UI plays 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, the UI 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 your business goals, which are important, though maybe not as important as your users. Unless, of course, you’re not making money.

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!”

Not there yet? You will soon enough: “Yep, Kitty said it would be like this.”

Until next time,
K