User Experience: Everyone is a Designer
User Experience is usually talked about in the context of technology – a website, app or a product. However, if we rethink the notion of what constitutes a user experience, it becomes far more than just a set of digital interactions, inputs and outputs.
When you think about it, UX is all around us. Whether you’re waiting in line at the post office, ordering coffee from your local coffee place, or going to the movies – you are having a string of experiences. And people who make those experiences possible for you, are, to some extent, user experience designers.
But let’s take a step back for a second.
There are various definitions of UX – but, put simply, it’s the sum of behaviors, thoughts and emotions that transpire during the user’s interaction with a service or product.
Using that analogy, it is then natural to assume that the infamous UX Designer is a person that ever so lovingly crafts an experience that evokes said behaviors, thoughts and emotions.
Well, not entirely wrong. Yes, the UX Designer plays a very important role. Yes, their job is to design an interface, or a process that captivates your target market, to facilitate all parts of the process and leave the customers satisfied after the interaction is complete.
They are also good at it and will get most of the credit – as long as the product or service can be contained within the screen. Job well done, let’s shake hands and go home.
What we often fail to think about, or even acknowledge, are the interactions that transpire outside of the comfort of a beautifully designed interface. We’ve heard this numerous times. An interface does not constitute an experience. Nor can we design experiences – we can design for them.
Picture this. You see your friend recommending the newly opened restaurant. You go to their website – it’s gorgeous. You even make a reservation, because they made it so easy for you. You may even subscribe to their newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any important updates from your now-new-favorite-restaurant-you-can’t-wait-to-finally-go-to. Kudos to the UX person.
So what happens when you actually get there? The place looks amazing, the music is just the right volume, and dish you ordered is to die for. You’ve arrived there excited and left feeling full and satisfied. Who do you thank for this? The manager? The interior designer? The chef? Probably all of them.
The great experience that the restaurant delivered is a collective effort of marketing, management, technology, customer service and everything in between. UX cannot and should not be compartmentalized – it is a team effort and should be approached as such.
To reiterate the point I tried to make at the beginning of this article, everyone involved in the interaction is a user experience designer – whether they are aware of it or not. Instead of fighting the battle to determine what which individual does and doesn’t do, we should focus on communicating, as well as executing as a team. Whether that experience happens on the screen of a smartphone, or out there in the real world, everyone should be responsible for the best experience possible for the customer.