User Experience

What is User Experience?

At the highest level, User Experience (UX) Design is the discipline responsible for delivering an optimal experience to the user of a product.  This role is in charge, literally, of how the product works.

Steve Jobs once spoke the following about User Experience Design, and I cite this quote regularly:

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

What does That Mean?

User Experience is generally composed of two interrelated disciplines:

  • User Interface Design  – Responsible for the visual appearance of a product: colors, iconography and layout, among others.
  • Interaction Design – Responsible for the sequence of steps required to accomplish a task, for ensuring the right information and buttons are on the screen at the right time, etc.

Interaction design has become one of the most important differentiators in software with the ascendance of smartphones.  Because of their small form factor, there isn’t room for extraneous information or for the bloated menus of desktop applications.  Smartphone apps must show all the needed information, and only the needed information.  This is what makes the iPhone so captivating–the designers seem to simply know what you’ll need.  That’s because plenty of user research went on behind the scenes to offer an understanding of the optimal user flows.

Posts about UX

As you might imagine, I believe UX is a game changer, and quite frankly, that it hasn’t begun to live up to its potential to disrupt enterprise software.  I have written a few posts about this in the past but will be revisiting the topic in the future.

  • Business Case for User Experience Investment – Three of the typical patterns used to craft business cases for investment in user experience skills.
  • Product Fragmentation in Atlanta – I wrote about the evolution of the product management role to encompass User Experience in some schools of thought.
  • Marty Cagan: Making Products Customers Love – Lessons from Marty Cagan’s talk at MindTheProduct 2012.  Cagan is a big advocate of the Product Owner Team concept and the importance of UX design in successful products.
  • Lean UX at Nordstrom – A very insightful video about conducting lean user experience practices to quickly iterate on a product idea.
  • Personas in Design and Strategy – A presentation authored by Kevin O’Malley and myself, and delivered by us together at B2BCamp Atlanta, about how personas can be used both for product strategy and for product design.
  • Three Voices on Interaction Design – Several posts about the importance of interaction design crossed my path and touched on a common theme.
  • Dual-Track Agile: Better Solutions Faster – My experience with dual-track agile Discovery and Delivery shows that better outcomes can be achieved by investing in proper consideration of the long term.

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