Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

What is UX?

UX stands for User Experience and as a UX Design Researcher it is my job to make things as easy as possible for the user while helping the business achive its goals.

The problem with a term like UX is, because it touches on so many different parts of the process it can sometimes be hard to explain exactly what I do.

For instance I am not a visual designer but I might make suggestions on the visual design following testing with users.

me and mollie doing user testing
Testing a mobile app

UX is more than just creating wireframes or personas and is something which should be thought about throughout a project, from start to finish.

After all if your website or process is easy to use, it is more likely that users will keep coming back and bring their friends.

So lets get into more detail. Imagine you have a website or app which people use to book flights on your airline. The user experience is not just how the website or app works, it is about what makes them want to book in the first place, the anticipation of going on a trip once they have booked, then the actual trip itself. You could even include them using your service again next time.

"User experience is not a magic sauce which you can sprinkle over your business at the end."

If you try to work on the UX of the website without looking at all the other parts of the users experience you will find it will not quite gel because you have not thought about the whole experience. As I said above this does mean UX touches on many other processes, for instance the description above might also be called customer experience or service design, but I think that they are all very much connected and you can not really have one without the rest.

If you are not thinking about user experience at the very top level you will find there are gaps where customers experience something that does not match the rest of the service you are trying to deliver which will, of course, be the bit they remember, leaving a question mark over whether they will bother to visit your business again.

User experience is not a magic sauce which you can sprinkle over your business at the end. It needs to be thought about and baked into how you work from beginning to end.

If you leave the overall experience to the different departments of your company - marketing, sales, customer care, who all have different targets, your customers will know, although they might not understand what is wrong.

photos of doors with handles and the word Push
How many times have you Pulled on a door like this? Even though it says Push.
A perfect example of a bad user experience which leaves the user feeling stupid.

I have worked on websites where different departments have different ideas about what the website should do so it ends up as a mish-mash of content which does not help the user in any way.

The user does not care how your organisation is broken up or works, all they want to do is book a ticket.

A great example of how this has been done well is Disneyland. With the introduction of their MagicBands they have taken away as many barriers as possible to help people have a good time and it starts as soon as you book your tickets. They want their customers to experience magic and this is what they have done. No need for tickets or money, the MagicBand does all this for you. It lets you into the park, holds ride reservations reducing queues and lets you buy food and souvenirs all with a swipe of the band, magic!

So user experience is not just about making it look nice, it's about making your service something that is easy to use and makes people happy, which in turn will make the business happy.

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