Ah, user experience on the Web. Every Web professional thinks they know about user experience, one of the golden Web principles referring to the level of satisfaction and overall perception of a product or service. An increasing problem is when websites try too hard to create an experience rather than let an experience unfold on their visitors' own terms.
Some of us already acknowledge this idea, but haven't really put it on paper per-say. In many cases, a website is made to have a few different clear calls-to-action, each of which usually appeals to a separate demographic, and thus a different experience. An obvious example is a website like our very own LuckyOliver.
Not everyone is going to go to LuckyOliver to purchase stock photos; some are looking to sell, some are looking to buy in bulk, and others are coming for the written resources. The same website serves at least three different groups of people looking for different experiences, but all revolving around the same medium and subject matter. There are beginners, intermediates, and experts all experiencing something different. Think of the numerous languages in use as well. The number of experiences are determined by your visitors, not by you. It's that kind of applicability that makes a site successful, providing a handful of different experiences, ultimately letting the person make his or her own experience out of the website.
User experience is not something to be thought of as a universal constant, but as a universal variable, something that although we try our best to control, ultimately depends upon the people themselves. As Web professionals, we can only provide the tools they need to generate an experience that allows our websites to be successful.
How do you look at your websites? Are you trying too hard to create an experience rather than let your visitors create their own experiences? Do both situations hold value on the Web, or is one destined to come out on top? Tell us what you think.