Have you ever installed an App on your mobile that didn’t provide you the experience you had hoped for? Of course you have. Not all Apps are as good. (Actually the more Apps a store has the lower the average quality). Why was the experience not good? Was the App hard to use, did it look ugly, or did it have annoying advertisements that popped up at undesired moments (as if they could ever popup at desired moments), etc?
All these User Experience aspects are part of the User Interface (UI). In the last couple of years there has been a trend to describe these aspects, and the activities involved in improving them, with the term User Experience Design or just UX. Unfortunately, this attention to UX has diluted the name of this interesting field of work.
Everyone has had some experience at some time
The term has become quite popular and an increasing number of people involved with user interfaces has started to call themselves UX expert or UX designer. However, the term User Experience entails much more than just the user interface, and when you know about user interfaces, it does not make you a User Experience expert. There have been people who have recognized this to some degree, but the only thing they have done is limit the term UI, instead of what they should have done: extending the term UX.
The disappointing bargain
Imagine buying an App in your mobile App store (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, etc) for two USD. You download it and start it, but then find out that the app is hard to use. The result: You have a bad experience.
Imagine now that you paid 20 USD for an app and the app turns out to look great, is easy to use and does what you need it for. The UI designer seems to have done a great job. So what is your experience? It’s most likely still bad, because for an app which cost 20 USD you would have expected more.
Beyond the product
User Experience goes far beyond the user interface of the product. It even goes beyond the product itself. It shares fields of study with Marketing and Branding, although I know quite a lot of people that call themselves marketing focused who care more about segmentation and potential market shares than about the user experience of their customers.
The user experience entains everything from information gathering before buy, usage and disposing of the product after use, to price, service, and feedback from friends.
Because UX is much wider than a single product that can be designed, it would make more sense to use the term UX manager, in favor of the term UX designer. To clarify the above, the table below describes a more complete list of the fields that real UX management is all about.
|Traditional fields of the UI/UX designer||Modern fields of UX manager|
|Defining personas||Defining personas|
|Interaction design||Interaction design|
|Interface layout||Interface layout|
|Interface design||Interface design|
|Working tightly with programmers||Working tightly with programmers|
|Working tightly with product designers|
|Packaging (on shelf experience)|
|Packaging (carrying home experience)|
|Packaging (unpacking experience)|
|Communication tone of voice / copy writing|
|Communication channels (ATL, BTL, digital, in shop, social media, face to face, employee to customer, etc.)|
|Price / Value for money|
|Color scheme of interface|
|Color scheme of rest of product|
|Material choices (look and feel, durability, etc.)|
|Speed of interface|
|Stability of interface and product in general|
|Quality of functionality|
|Social media response|
|Pre-sales information gathering|
|Product portfolio cohesion|
|Decision making (to buy)|
|After sales service|
|Maintenance requirements and ease of maintenance|
|Compatibility with existing accessories|
|Available spare parts and price of them|
|Discarding the product|
|Environmental impact experience|
|Availability of successor product for customer retention|
All these fields require proper attention from the UX manager to make the product to a success and to make sure it contributes positively to the value of your brand. It’s impossible to be an expert in all these areas. However the UX manager needs to have awareness and interest in all these fields and address the importance and meaning of experience for each target group / persona to the individual experts.