User experience is often overlooked in website and app design and, indeed, the design of many things. How many times have you felt compelled to push a door only to find you need to pull it instead? While fire codes might dictate such design, it’s an example of user experience at work.
While taking a moment to figure out whether a door is push or pull sounds like a small thing, those types of irritants can add up online — and cost your business customers.
What is UX?
The User Experience Professionals Association defines user experience (UX) like this: “Every aspect of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole. User experience design as a discipline is concerned with all the elements that together make up that interface, including layout, visual design, text, brand, sound and interaction.”
In some cases, you can even equate UX to customer service. Similarly, the Nielsen Norman Group says a good user experience meets “the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother.” But, to go above and beyond with user experience means creating something that is “a joy to use,” they said.
“True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want or providing checklist features,” says Nielsen Norman Group. “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.”
Also notable in this description is that it applies to any medium, whether it’s the design of a public restroom, your company website or an airplane. Many times you see these terms in reference to online design, and we’ll continue to use them in that sense here.
The difference between UX and UI
We can’t discuss UX without mentioning user interface (UI) because the two are often connected, and also frequently confused. UX is science-based and takes into account sociology. Think big picture.
User Interface is more graphically focused, with attention to the buttons on which a user clicks and the paths that follow. UI is the look and feel of a website, its responsiveness and interactivity. A visitor might have an excellent UI with your site but walk away with a disappointing experience upon learning you don’t have the content he or she is seeking.
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