Defining UX is an abstraction exercise, a deep thought about all the agents touching upon the product’s value (apart of the typology of this product) by the users. Interactions, sensations, values, evaluations and scenes have become the new path of yellow paving stones over which the projects walk. At the end, all of us desire that our products get it safely to Oz’s marvellous world (oz = ounce of gold).
Thousands of UX designers, IT managers, Project of Product Manager, Developers or gurus with thousands of followers will offer explanations as different among them as similar in their backgrounds. User’s Experience (UX), Information Architecture (IA), Interaction Design (IxD), User’s Interface (UI)..., too many acronyms and technical terms to explain something we live daily. The user’s experience goes with us, when we go shopping, sending a SMS, checking our mail, marking a box of a form of the Income Statement.
What is UX? First of all, I want to say that everytime you talk about a concept, there is a father, someone who firstly established some definitions, and, although there are different tendencies and many opinions, UX’s father was Donald Norman, co-founder with Jakob Nielsen of ‘Nielsen Norman Group’.
Peter Morville proposes a context of rigorous analysis and, from my own point of view, very usable and useful, when we talk about websites, for instance, and all the aspects concerning UX. It is true that, except some qualifications about “Findable” could be applied to any product.
Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, Credible and Valuable
UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) is not the same. No, we must answer this question with a resounding NO. I think the best definition to clarify what is each one is the following: UI is a car’s design, its colour, its shape, dashboard design, aspect of the headlights, tires’ appearance, the industrial design made of parts, etc.....
And UX is to drive that car.
A great UI (User Interface = visual aspect) helps notoriously to the UX of a product, but, if it is bad, it could ruin it totally too. Of course, if the car’s aspect is fine, we have positive feelings that generate an influence in our behaviour with the product.
The following infographics shows clearly what is each part.
What type of experiences support the UX?. Let’s wait for a moment and have a look around us: I am sure we could see some scenes in which some positive or negative “feelings” could influence us.
All those things the user could touch (the package of the products, for instance), listen (melodies and commercial sounds in malls), smell (the fresh products in a shop or a florist), see (close to the maximum sale items, with signs offering), etc...
Even the accessibility is associated to these impacts (the packages offer the description in Braille, or), for instance, in airports it is usually described in a “accessible” way how to reach to the selected area; or in florist with labels and prices for each type of flower; but it is better if we put close to each sign a flower, so the user could smell it or even touch it, so he could associate his perceptions to the product the user could not perceive visually (Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler).
And, of course, it includes some aspects with which the user cannot interact (at least, in the way we imagine), for instance with a coherent taxonomy and it has become a "de facto" standard in its field.
It is not helpful to define a magnificent and very original taxonomy for a client that develops “screws”, if we don’t investigate and see in which taxonomy the users usually to move in that field.
We cannot rename the category “Screws” as “Metallic elements for fixing” or using a singular abbreviation like “Scre”. Surely (we could analyze it), there will be some users that could guess correctly its content, but there will be other users that pass by due to the ignorance with this new content’s category.
Another example about how we can identify the UX is a daily scene: we go to a florist and looking at the shop window, we see jars with fresh flowers, recently watered with an unsurpassable aspect, beautiful glass jars cleaned and even we could see how the illuminated sign is in perfect light conditions. Great, good senses input, confidence feeling and good vibrations about the quality of the products.
As soon as we come in, someone from the end cries loudly with a hard and rough voice, even rude in his pitch: “what do you want???”. Well, we feel a little bit uncomfortable; it sounds a shrill music, disturbing us. But the most negative feeling is the aspect of abandon and disorganization that exists. Even the smell does not correspond with the initial feeling in front of the shop window: we smell flowers but not fresh ones; and we notice the lack of style and “plastic pots” thrown everywhere over the floor, joined with the dust fallen from the exposition plants (plants in an awful state of putrefaction).
There is a queue of people waiting to be attended, with only one employee, while other two employees are talking between them about personal matters, ignoring the long wait that some customers are saying. In a moment, the employee starts a discussion with the first customer: this is over all I could admit as a customer and, definitively, I go away of this shop without buying anything.
This is an usual story, a bit exaggerated, but it shows definitively that the add of experiences, positives and negatives, influence our perception of a product. In a similar way, the same senses could influence the behaviour and even the decision of other users towards the same product.
NEXT ENTRY: Predictable or theoretical dimension of the experiences, (UX) relationships (2/2)