User experience (UX)
User experience is how you feel about every interaction you have with what's in front of you in the moment you're using it.
What does UX address?
There are many facets of your experience, none of which can stand on their own. For example, it’s a common mistake to equate usability to user experience. Usability addresses whether or not you’re able to achieve a task or goals with a product or service. But simply being able to achieve your task of picking up some carrots and paper towels at the grocery store doesn’t give us the whole picture of how you felt about your shopping trip. Each aspect of the user experience is important and has its own special characteristics, but they all work together to create a good—or bad—experience. Creating a great user experience requires a user to answer these questions:
- Can you use it? One of the most basic requirements of good UX is actually being able to achieve what you’ve set out to do. If you can’t use the product, then the product is useless to you.
- Can you find it? Finding the information you need is also important. Is the navigation menu intuitive? Is the search bar where you thought it should be? If you have to think too much about how to find what you need, the UX is lacking. This also applies to being able to find the product itself—whether by searching online or by other means.
- Does it serve a need that you have? A product can be beautifully designed and easy to use, but if it doesn’t help address a need you have, you’re not going to be interested in it.
- Do you want to use it? If a product’s design is intuitive and a delight to use, you’ll want to use it. And if it’s not? Even the most useful and functional product can provide a poor user experience if it’s a total bore, or the user has no incentive to use it.
- Do you find it valuable? If a product doesn’t provide some sort of value in your life, chances are you won’t use it for long. Does the product save you time or money? Does it help you achieve personal or professional goals? Whatever the benchmark is, a product should add some value to you when you use it.
- Do you trust it? Credibility is huge. If you don’t trust a website, you’re not going to give them your credit card information to make a purchase.
- Is it accessible to you? If you can’t get to your intended destination, you can’t utilize the goods or services offered there. Users with disabilities must be considered to ensure everyone has access to your product.
These elements guide not only the design of a great experience, but how we test, research, and measure them too. And they all need to work in tandem as well. Leave out any one (or more) of these elements, and you’re treading into bad UX territory.