However, those of us who worked in the Web design industry prior to the codification of user-centered design, usability and Web accessibility would know that we used to make websites differently. Before our clients (and we) understood the value of user-centered design, we made design decisions based on just two things: what we thought was awesome and what the client wanted to see.
So, how do you meet the needs of your customers? By using a process of creating products that provide meaningful and personally relevant experiences. This process is called User experience (UX) design. User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels when interfacing with a system. The system could be a website, a web application or desktop software and, in modern contexts, is generally denoted by some form of human-computer interaction (HCI).
User experience (UX) design involves the careful design of both a product’s usability and the pleasure consumers will derive from using it. It is also concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.
An important concept in UX design is the process by which users form experiences. When first encountering a product, a user forms a momentary impression—which evolves over time, typically as the product is used throughout a period. In this process, the user’s perception, action, motivation, and cognition integrate to form a memorable and coherent story: called “the user experience.” This process elicits emotional responses, which largely determine whether the experience will be considered positive or negative.
UX designers, or designers who are aware of the process of experience formation, seek to create and shape the factors influencing the process deliberately. To do this, a UX designer will consider the Why, What, and How of product use. The Why involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with it, or to values and views associated with the ownership and use of the product. The What addresses the things people can do with a product—its functionality. Finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasant way. UX design starts from the Why, then determines the What and finally the How, in order to create products that users can form meaningful experiences with.
The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.
It’s important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.