User Experience is a term you hear thrown around a whole lot lately. For some people it means the way a site looks and feels, for other it’s all about a site’s architecture, but for most of them it’s just an empty buzzword that doesn’t mean anything at all.
User experience is all that and much more. It literally is what users think and feel while using your product.
UX is everywhere
If your site has a painless sign-up process, that’s part of the user experience. If your site uses gorgeous photos, that’s part of the user experience. If your site is unbearably slow, that’s UX too. And if your site is perfect, but there’s a bug in your code and you end up charging people twice as much for your product, well guess what, that’s also part of their (very bad) user experience.
So “user experience design” can include web design, photography, speed optimization, coding, to say nothing of copywriting, branding, security, interaction design, or information architecture.
We’re all User Experience Designers
It logically follows that someone who calls himself a “user experience designers” should be involved in every one of those aspects. But instead, actual “user experience designers” usually come in during the early stages of a project, and use wireframes and prototypes to plan out design, architecture, and interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not a real job. But I feel like it should be called something else, like maybe “Prototype Designer”, or “User Experience Consultant” if the person comes in at a later stage to analyze an existing site.
In my mind, the title of “User Experience Designer” does not belong to a single person. Instead, it should be embraced by everybody contributing to the project, whether they are a designer, coder, photographer, writer, or systems administrator. Because after all, their work is what ultimately defines the user’s experience.
“Can you add more UX to it?”
Why is that important at all? Isn’t all this just a question of semantics? Well, yes, it is. But bad semantics lead to bad communication, and that in turn leads to bad results. It’s not uncommon to hear clients asking if you “do UX” or asking a designer if they “focus on UX”. UX soon becomes an empty buzzword that can mean whatever the client wants it to mean.
User Experience Professionals have done a great job of promoting UX as a concept. But I feel it’s now time that designers reclaim that term and make it clear that “UX” is not a mysterious new idea, but instead part of what every designer does every day.