What is UX (User Experience)?

(and should I be afraid to talk at a user group that has UX as its focus)..

UX or User Experience or User Experience Design is a pretty hot topic right now… well in some circles. In other circles its a feared topic. Oftentimes when I ask someone to speak at my group Tampa UX, I get a response like “Isn’t that just for designers? I’m a developer, you don’t really want me there.” I usually end up coaching the speaker on what they should and should not do. Along the way I find that I have to explain what I’m about to explain here.

There are 7 pieces to the puzzle that we think of at Tampa UX as the foundations of what we are about: Usable, Useful, Desirable, Valuable, Findable, Accessible, and Credible.

We felt that it was pretty important which is why we have an ongoing series by Shawn Cady covering each of these topics.

Some things to notice on that list.. Do you see the word “UI” there? Do you see the word “Design?” “Desirable” is actually the concept that heads in the direction of what we think of as classic design. One could also argue that there are facets of “Usable” could be described as “Design” as well, but be careful there, developers can make things “Usable” as well. Something else that can make something “Usable” is good training manuals or trainers.. it’s not always IT that makes our systems have good UX.

To me there are also some terms there that scream classic developer mindsets: “Useful” is the one that jumps at me. In fact at Hydrogen Media (you can search for them yourself) we had the classic Designers vs. Developers mindset (and I’m ashamed to have taken part in those debates). Designers will say “if its ugly no one will be drawn to it and use it in the first place".” Developers always say “if it’s just pretty pictures with no substance, no one will use it more than once.” As I look back on those times (10 years ago), I can now see that the answer lies in the fact that both are equally important, and there are these other things that just jump out at us.

For instance, “Accessible” talks about how easily it is to access features and it also has implications in the new accessibility Laws for handicap impaired persons using applications on the Internet. “Credible” talks about whether someone believes your product is something they can trust. “Valuable” talks about the fact that your system gives a value that is not easily attainable elsewhere (it has a “value” for the user… and they can weigh that value in their minds in terms of money). The difference “Valuable” and “Desirable” is that desirable talks about features or a system that is something that the user wants.. (it’s not about needs.. “the system does more than I need…” “it goes over the top in what it offers..”)

Giving a UX Talk
“So what kind of developer talks do you have at Tampa UX? I mean could I speak on forwarding WCF requests over SMTP?” The short answer to that is “NOOO!!” At Tampa UX we try to balance everything. We are actually in a rhythm where we have a light developer talk and a light designer talk. Ultimately our goal is to not bore one half of the audience during each talk. We would like to get to a place where we view every topic in light of the above list, but that’s just not always possible. In our group the technologies we seem to be focused on are Ajax With ASP.NET and Silverlight (although we have had the occasional XNA talk as well as we are looking at bringing in some WPF speakers as well). Believe it or not Silverlight and WPF (and Blend) are extremely hot with some designers right now..

Print | posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 12:54 PM

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# re: What is UX (User Experience)?

left by Matt at 4/20/2009 11:53 PM Gravatar
If you are interested in the topic, these 2 illustrations are a great place to start:

UX Honeycomb
http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php

UX Treasure Map
http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000228.php

I think UX will be hugh when people realize how these artifacts fit into some sort of Style Guides, System Specifications, etc. they already have or need to define. Image new requests/stories that could leverage these already defined elements to increase velocity.

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