User Experience – An Understanding, A Philosophy

User Experience (UX) isn’t a product or a service, it’s an understanding and a philosophy. I don’t like the term ‘user’ if I’m honest, and I prefer to replace it with the word ‘people’. It’s actually all about peoples experiences.

Peoples experience is driven by peoples ever-changing behaviours and expectations, and it’s applicable to everything that people experience in life. While I have a fascination in peoples experiences in all walks of life, here I’m obviously going to concentrate on peoples experience using websites.

The other thing to bear in mind when considering peoples experience, is that a good experience is usually the shortest one. Here’s a quote from a Smashing Magazine article that explains clearly:

Here is a little revelation. People are not really into using products. Any time spent by a user operating an interface, twisting knobs, pulling levers or tapping buttons is time wasted. Rather, people are more interested in the end result and in obtaining that result in the quickest, least intrusive and most efficient manner possible. And these are two fundamentally different concepts — usage versus results — which, at the very least, differentiate good product design from poor product design or, on a smaller scale, a good feature from a bad one.

I still find a lot of products today, be they digital or physical, to be too complex and feature-driven. Shouldn’t we as designers instead be looking to remove complexity for users as much as possible or as much as allowed for by current technology, by making our products fit more seamlessly into their daily lives and routines? I feel that we simply don’t and, more worryingly, that we still haven’t learned lessons from the past.

For me, that sums up a good people experience – quick, easy, non-disruptive. And that is always my main driver when designing and developing websites – creating the path of least resistance.

The simplification of a persons website browsing experience, is an obsession of mine and something I bring to every website design I undertake.