What the heck is User Experience(UX)?

September 24, 2017

User Experience, (UX for short)— it’s a pretty popular subject these days. But at the same time, it’s often not well understood. I like many other developers had rough idea of what it is but didn’t know fuss was all about. It’s a bit like the word ‘Synergy.’ Everyone has heard of it and have their interpretation, but not many(including yours truly) know what exactly it stands for.

So, I set out to try and understand what it’s all about! I’ve searched the world wide web and talked to people who are far more knowledgeable than me. I’ll try to summarize what I’ve learned in this article. Please note that I do not claim to be a UX expert by any sense of the word. I’m just an explorer into this wonderful world of UX who jots things down in his blog. I’d open to criticism and would love to hear any corrections, feedback, suggestions you may have.

Now down to business. What is UX?

According to Google UX is:

the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

Well I guess that wraps up my article. Thanks for reading.

That would have been easy to do :D

But it didn’t answer my question. What makes a good User experience? How would someone go about improving it? And why should I care? So I kept on looking.

What is UX? Really?

One of the best succinct explanations I’ve found on what is good user experience goes as follows:

“Improving User Experience is reducing the traction between the user and his/her goals”

We use products and services for a goal. It could be purchasing a ticket using a website; it could even be something as simple as opening the door to get out of a building! It doesn’t have to do anything with computers; it just involves a user and his or her experience.


A door? could offer a really bad user experience

A door that doesn’t open the way you expect would increase the traction between the user, and their goal(In this case exiting the building).

This simple explanation scales to the more advanced user experiences. You could be using a movie ticket. This could be a very complicated process. With multiple venues, multiple movies showing at different times. The complexity is compounded by additional features such as seat selection, mobile sites, online payments and many other bells and whistles that we expect in modern ticket booking site. Complexity doesn’t add up, it multiplies. A good UX for a ticketing site would have the least amount of traction for a customer booking a ticket.(i.e. his/her goal).


Sounds simple enough! We should get a designer to draw up a fancy looking site and then use the latest technologies to build it!

Hold your horses!

When we talk about UX what we see out in the open is most often just a fancy User Interface. But UI is just an endpoint where the user interacts with the service or the product that we are offering. While it is an integral part of the system, It is just one of the many parts of what makes up a good User Experience.

UX vs UI

alt text

I think that the above image from Shane Rounce sums this up nicely. The fanciest spoon would not be able to make a bad soup taste good. Just like how the best UI would not save the user from a bad User Experience. At the same time, the best soup in the world served in a flat dish would make for a bad User Experience. Therfore, a good UI is an integral part of a good UX.

Why should I care?

So I’m not directly involved in the User Experience. I just a developer! Why should I care about all this?

That’s an excellent question! But there is a reason that everyone should care. We are building products and providing services to our customers. Who ever they may be. And User Experience is what the user finally experiences.

Everyone should be involved in the UX. Not just the UX experts.

UX experts have the know-how to design and improve the user experience. But the experience is only as good as the sum of its parts. Without robust code that does what the user wants, without good customer service to support the product, without good marketing exposing the product the customers, at the end of the day, all that effort spent of UX would be wasted. And at the same time, even if you write the most well optimized, bug-free code in the world, it would be useless if the user experience is sub-par.

Also, there should be a compromise. We need to be pragmatic about every product and service we may offer. With limited time and resources. We need to collaborate and come up with realistic solutions to users problems. For this synergy between UX experts and everyone else is needed.

What else is in UX

UX is a human science. It’s not hard science. So there is no one clear-cut definition to what it is. And we just looked at the very surface level. UX goes much much deeper than what we discussed in this article.

alt text

User experience is the human experience. Its about presenting humans of ways of interacting with products and services while giving them the best possible experience.

And this is no simple feat!

There are so many topics when it comes to UX. From Information Architecture, User Research, Usability Testing, Visual Design, Human Psychology, Pleasing designs, Accessible designs, Patterns of human interaction, empathy and emotion and feedback, Forgiving design, Emotional designs, Pleasing graphics, Accessible designs and so much more.

The world of User Experience is surprisingly vast and fascinating to peek into. I will keep on exploring this world and will scribble my thoughts along the way. Thank you for reading through this article and I’d love to get any feedback(positive or negative) from you.