Jargon of the Day: User Experience Design

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Jargon. It's an occupational hazard. Which is why we couldn't help but chuckle when we read this Harvard Business Review article on the subject. The article got us thinking, what are the buzzwords in our field that simply don't make much sense to us? The one term that kept coming to mind was "User Experience Design."

For us, "User Experience Design" would have to fall into the "meaningless expression" category of the article. Think about it — to truly be a UX Designer you have to be an expert in so many fields. That's because the buzzword of User Experience Design covers too many fields: anthropology, psychology, graphic design, user research, communication design, usability and much much more. How can any one person really be an expert in all that?

Digging deeper, how can you design user experience? To say you're designing an experience that just happens and changes overtime, you're committing yourself to crafting something that's not only functional, but creates the same emotional response from every user. Or as Smashing Magazine points out:

Users are different. Some are able to easily use a website to perform a task. Others simply are not. The stimulation that a product provides depends on the individual user's experience with similar products. Users compare websites and have different expectations. Furthermore, they have different goals, and so they use what you made in different modes.

In other words, user experience can't be designed. You can't [edit: control] the emotions, feelings, and experiences of the user. You can, however, understand them. As product designers, we shouldn't think that we're creating experiences. Our goal is to understand how users interact with our products so we can make them better.

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