User experience is the entire look AND feel of a product, system or service. Whether it's your website, a signup process, an application or an object - you have control over it. Interaction with an experience can vary dependent on emotion and situation, but ultimately it's a person's perception of the whole package. There are fundamental points to consider when designing something, with the best of intentions.
The process of evolutionary engineering
During the mid 1990's the term "user experience" was popularized by Donald Norman, an academic in cognitive science, design and usability engineering. Donald is now co-founder and consultant with the Nielsen Norman Group, a pioneer in the industry.
Of all the categories and sub categories, today user experience design is well recognized and put to use in website design and mobile experiences. There are full time positions for UX designers and new career paths in the field.
Today user experience design can make or break your business. Especially in the digital field, users expect more and more out of the things they user. When done right your customer will be left with a level of satisfaction. Even if they don't know why.
Where do you start? A quick sketch, wireframe or prototype can be an efficient way of determining flow whether it's a signup process or an application.>A quick wireframe of a possible landing page website design
Getting in touch with Emotion
Taking action & the result from that action can trigger an emotional response.
Within the system you're working in, say for example a website, allows you to click a button leading you to a new page. That jump from A to B might include a specific structure, states, transitions all leading to the final result.
When dealing with website capacity issues, how you manage that could be crucial. Emotionally a user is prevented from using a service that they expect to be operating so they might get upset.The infamous twitter fail whale
Twitter is famous at times for being over capacity. Now I haven't seen the fail whale in a while, but it reminds us of how to manage a situation. Instead of having an uninspiring message, have a little fun and your users might forgive you.
If it happens too often, maybe it becomes an unwelcome sight.
Influencing a decision
There are several influences when it comes to user experience. A person's state, previous knowledge or experience (expectation), and the situation among other things.
When it comes to interface design, decisions have to be made about how lean or how visual it needs to be. An interface for a video game might be very different from a website checkout.
In a past article I wrote about flat design versus skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphic design uses elements you are familiar with from everyday use and putting that to work in the overall experience.
The design, marketing and social context can influence the experience.
What kind of a decision would you want to influence? Whether it's an signup, a contact, a sale or some other action - these are your goals, and user experience guides you to them.Amazon's checkout breaks up the process into easy steps
This is a great opportunity to touch on e-commerce. Amazon has done an excellent job, among other things at user experience - leading the user to make a purchase decision. Everything from wishlists, customer reviews, to the checkout process leads the customer to ultimately go ahead.
Why you should care about user experience
It might just be how you package things and maybe you call it something else, but UX is one of those things that will be there whether or not you acknowledge it. It can make or break a customer's decision to make a purchase, get in touch or even just find their way. More than that it could influence whether or not to someone will engage with you more than once based on their experience.
This is really just an introduction and a high level overview of user experience. There are tons of books and articles out there if you'd like to learn more. It's something we'll likely go into more depth on in future posts.
Here are a handful of our favourite websites to learn more on the subject: