Are we using the term UX correctly?

Posted by Lucy Collins on Jun 9, 2021 2:51:26 PM
Lucy Collins

For many years we have referred to ourselves as UX agency. However, over time the term has been adopted and co-opted to mean a multitude of different things to different people. So we wanted to clarify what UX means to us.

UX was once just an abbreviation for User Experience, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the overall experience of a person using a product, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use”.

However, it has come to mean so much more. It is a set of methodologies and design principles and a defined role within many organisations (UX Designer, UX Researcher).

For many, UX also appears to be used interchangeable with UI or user interface. Type UX Designer into Linkedin jobs and you get all sorts of descriptions ranging from roles which involve conducting user research to those that just focus on building the UI, without any requirement to actually speak to users.

This confusion has the potential to limit the scope of UX. By concerning ourselves just with the UI, we forget about all the things that go on around a digital interface. The journey the user is on before they reach it, the goals that they want to achieve while engaging with the UI, the follow up that might go on afterwards.

As Don Norman of the Nielsen Norman Group says:

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”

So what do we mean by UX?

Here at Web Usability, UX is about understanding the needs and contexts of a user to design a service, campaign or product that is easy to use and creates the desired emotional response. This is not limited to just websites. This can be any contact an organisation has with its users.

We cannot create a user experience; that is something users have to do for themselves as it is a subjective response to a product or service. However, we can support organisations to build products and services or design campaigns and messaging in an informed way to ensure it has the best chance of eliciting the desired experience, whether that is helping a user seamlessly complete a transaction, making them feel a certain emotion following an interaction with your brand or prompting an action or change in behaviour.

And we do this by conducting research with users a.k.a UX research.

How can you use UX insight?

Hopefully we now have a little more agreement on what UX is and certainly that it is broader than just the interface of a digital product. So how can businesses incorporate UX insight more widely to ensure we are working as hard as possible to create a fantastic user experience at every point in the user journey? Obviously involving users at all stages of the digital development process is key. But here are just some of the less obvious business areas that can also benefit from working more closely with UX:

  • Developing marketing campaigns and messaging that resonate with users
  • Creating an effective customer feedback loop internally
  • Designing customer service solutions that work for your users
  • Developing print material and brochure that elicit a great user experience
  • Improving intranets to ensure they meet the needs of internal users

Need help inserting the voice of the customer into your business? Get in touch and let us help!

Read more: What is UX?, Why do usability testing

Topics: UX consultancy

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