Chapter 5: Part 2 – What is User Experience?

The term “user experience” is crucial for companies, but it’s easy to be confused about what it really means. Is it a feeling or an experience? Is it design or service? Is it art or commerce? In a company, whose responsibility is it? Is it the designer, the product manager, or the customer service, sales, or operations team? Everyone has their own understanding and perspective on “user experience.”

Some people believe that “user experience” should be elegant design that showcases artistic taste and evokes beautiful feelings. However, even without elegance, a good “user experience” can still be achieved. We can also find many counter-examples of “elegant” designs. For designers, pure colors are not a good choice. Designers should avoid using pure red, pure yellow, or pure blue in their works. However, many large stores like to use bright red as the main color in their promotional materials, which has proven to be effective. Red is a festive color for Chinese people, and they love to use this bright color for events like the New Year or weddings.

Others emphasize that “user experience” should be simple or efficient design. However, there are also many cases that do not adhere to these principles. For example, when shopping on our mobile phones, we first put the items in the virtual “shopping cart” before we can make the final payment. But usually, most e-commerce sites will give you a final confirmation screen before you pay. Although this makes the payment process more complicated, it actually gives us peace of mind and the opportunity to correct any errors.

There is also the viewpoint that “user experience” should include all aspects of the final user’s interaction with the company, its services, and products. But if this viewpoint is correct, it will actually make us more confused. If something involves all aspects, it means that it is essentially nothing. Because it has no boundaries, and boundaries are one of the main criteria for distinguishing different things.

The reality is that everyone is talking about “user experience,” but they are all talking about their own understanding of “user experience,” and most of the time, it is not the true “user experience.” However, for innovative organizations, if everyone does not have a common understanding of this basic issue, they will not be able to work together. Although team members know that they should work to improve “user experience,” each person chooses what they should do based on their understanding of “user experience,” which may not be complete or correct. Moreover, we also communicate with other team members based on our understanding and use it to evaluate their work values. In this situation, if we define “user experience” as a problem that involves “all aspects,” confusion is almost inevitable.

Norman changed the term “user-centered design” to “user experience,” which promoted the spread of the “user-centered” idea. But as he himself said, “Since then, the term has spread so widely that it has begun to lose its meaning.” Because everyone is a “user,” everyone also has their own “experience.” As a result, everyone can evaluate and it is not open to refutation.

On the one hand, we all talk about improving the “user experience,” but the actions taken by companies are often lackluster. The contradiction and confusion in our approach to “user experience” is a typical example of innovation being stifled. The surface-level resistance to innovation is actually due to the lack of a clear direction for innovation, or a lack of clarity about what specific actions should be taken. This is exactly the case with “user experience.” The lack of progress in improving the “user experience” is not due to a lack of willingness by companies, but rather a lack of understanding about what specifically should be done, how to do it, and how to evaluate the results. This fundamental issue stems from a lack of understanding of what the “user experience” really is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *