"When I tell people that I am a user experience designer, I usually get a blank stare. I try to follow it up quickly by saying that I make stuff easy and pleasurable to use. That’s the repeatable one-liner, but it’s a gross oversimplification and isn’t doing me any favors.
The term “user experience” or UX has been getting a lot of play, but many businesses are confused about what it actually is and how crucial it is to their success.
I asked some of the most influential and widely respected practitioners in UX what they consider to be the biggest misperceptions of what we do. The result is a top 10 list to debunk the myths. Read it, learn it, live it.
User experience design is NOT…
1. …user interface design
It’s not uncommon to confuse “user experience” with “user interface” — after all it’s a big part of what users interact with while experiencing digital products and services. But the UI is just one piece of the puzzle.
“Interface is a component of user experience, but there’s much more,” says Peter Merholz, founding partner and president of Adaptive Path. Christian Crumlish, curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, explains that design “isn’t about cosmetics, pixel-pushing, and button placement. It’s holistic and it’s everyone’s concern, not just the realm of ‘artistic’ types.”
Dan Saffer, founder and principal at Kicker Studio, agrees that it’s common for design to be mistaken for being solely about decoration or styling. “I’ve had clients tell me not to worry about what their strategy is,” he says, “because why would a designer care about that? UX is more than just skin deep.”
2. …a step in the process
It is the process. In order to create a great experience for your users, not just design something that we’d like to use, we need to keep listening and iterating. It doesn’t have to be a rigid process, but it does need to exist.
“User experience design isn’t a checkbox,” says Liz Danzico, an independent user experience consultant and chairperson of the new MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts. “You don’t do it and then move on. It needs to be integrated into everything you do.”
Dan Brown, co-founder and principal at EightShapes notes, “Most [clients] expect experience design to be a discrete activity, solving all their problems with a single functional specification or a single research study. It must be an ongoing effort, a process of continually learning about users, responding to their behaviors, and evolving the product or service.”
3. …about technology
User experience isn’t even about technology, says Mario Bourque, manager of information architecture and content management at Trapeze Group. “It’s about how we live. It’s about everything we do; it surrounds us.”
Like a painter uses paint to communicate concepts and emotions, user experience designers use technology to help people accomplish their goals. But the primary objective is to help people, not to make great technology.
“User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen,” argues Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design. “User experience is any interaction with any product, any artifact, any system.”
Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are." (Continued via Mashable, Whitney Hess) [Usability Resources]