WTF is UX?

Not to sound creepy, but user experience (UX) is all around you. It was there in that product you threw away because you hating using it; it's in every "click to subscribe" and "add to cart" button you've been compelled to push this month; and it will be in the next website you land on that's so unusable you'll have this reaction:

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So it’s in "every breath you take and every move you make" but what IS it, exactly?

Dictionary alert! Simply put, user experience 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.”

We know this is redundant, but user experience is about, well, the user’s experience. It encompasses all aspects of how you interact with a company, its services, and its products. What are your perceptions, responses, attitudes, and emotions you have when you’re engaging with a product or service? 

We're not just talking about usability, or how quickly and easily a user can accomplish their goal or task. UX involves a range of things, explained by the UX Honeycomb. (Take a minute and click that link so you really get it; we don't mind!)

Let’s put this in perspective.

Think about the last time you pulled up a website or app to order takeout. As you're opening that app, you already have feelings; maybe you feel a bit ashamed for ordering takeout yet again, or maybe you're excited to treat yourself because it's Friday night, baby! 

There is a specific sequence of actions you will take: browse your options, select what you want and make any special choices (yes to guacamole, no to cilantro!), place your choices in your cart, enter your delivery and payment info, get that confirmation email and... ding dong, your burrito is at the door!

Did you quickly find the right restaurant, even if you weren't sure what you wanted at first? Could you easily change your mind if you needed to? Were the next steps in your transaction clear and easy to follow? Were the food descriptions mouthwatering? Did you feel confident entering your credit card information?

All of that encompassed your (the user’s) experience. 

Okay, so you understand the concept (and how it’s instrumental in getting that food to your door!). But here's why this matters for you and your business, no matter what you're selling.

If your user doesn't have a good experience using your website or product, they’re not going to use it. They'll go to your competitors. They might even complain about your stuff to their friends, family, and colleagues.

You might actually have THE best idea, company, or website. But if users can’t figure out how to interact with it or have a negative response to using it, does it matter? If you don't consider your user, you probably won't figure out why no one is clicking that "buy" or "subscribe" button on your website. And that's a shame, since someone out there needs what you're selling.

A great example of a company who does this well is Deliveroo, a food delivery service that is popular in Europe. They've got this thing down in their easy-to-use app, which recommends restaurants in a friendly way and allows you to track the delivery from order to your doorstep in real-time.

They are also a company that understands customer experience, or what it's like for a customer to interact with every aspect of their brand. Not just their app, but their on-point social media, their friendly delivery peeps, their strategically-timed emails... everything. (Sometimes they ping you on a Friday night at 9 p.m. just to remind you that, yes, they can deliver ice cream to your door, and, yes, you can have it in 20 minutes, and, yes, you deserve it!) If Deliveroo's app works well but their customer service team is terrible, customers notice. And not in a good way.

Next week, we’re taking you another step forward into your users’ minds so you can start thinking like a bonafide UX designer. What questions should you be asking to know your users and their needs, values, and abilities? And how can this make your website or product even better?

In the meantime, enjoy these hilariously-designed inconvenient household items that will help demonstrate a poor user experience. And if there's a website, app, or product that you particularly can't stand using, let us know and we'll compile a handy list! (Our number one pick: Google+. UGH.)

(One last note: People also frequently confuse UX and UI, or user interface. We won't get into the nitty gritty here, but read this explanation of the difference as it's important to know!)