User Experience Defined?

While UX has been the industry buzz word for the last couple of years, its definition and effective implementation are still hard to pin point. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to explain what it is and it always seems to find different meaning with difference people. Now, when I’m asked what I do for a living, I find it easier to just sum it all up into “web designer.”

So what is user experience design? Well, it’s really a new mind set and not really about “design” at all… at least not in the traditional sense. It’s not all about the pretty colors or the cool interactivity. The “experience” isn’t wrapped up in the graphical environment you attempt to create for the user.

UX recognizes that the web is a product; like your car or coffee maker. And if you’re going to have a successful product in the market place, you design and test… and design and test… and design and test. You test out all the bugs. You design to create an emotional connection with the user. UX in the sense of how I’ve been involved with it is all about this transition in thinking.

The “experience” is founded in the goal; the action we want the user to take. All design must support that goal. That is the key element right there; identify and support… design and test.

I started out as a standard print designer and as I’ve moved into the digital space, one sad truth I’ve learned to embrace is that details matter but maybe not exactly the same details I’m obsessing over. The average user doesn’t really care about the font I’ve selected as long as it’s legible. The average user doesn’t know what kerning is, so that 10 min. I spent perfecting that graphic… I’ll never get it back.

Web users are becoming more and more sophisticated and they want to accomplish what they’ve come to do and leave. They want things fast and easy. Don’t make them decipher you’re custom navigation; meet them on their level and work with tools they are accustom to utilizing. Now THAT is smart UX.

There are several blogs out there about user experience and I’d like to share some of my favorite resources:

http://www.usabilitypost.com

http://uxmag.com

http://searchengineland.com/

Enjoy!

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