UX is the New User Experience

UX is now all the rage. So, what is UX? Just like it says in the title above, UX stands for "User Experience" which is... well... how you, the user, feels about your... experience. Yeah, this one's not rocket science, but it is a big enough deal that it warrants it's own page on my site. Why? Because I've been focusing on the user's experience since I graduated college in 1995. Wow, I feel old now.

I have always been aware and concerned with how my client's customers react to various things, like when handed a business card or they land on the home page of a website. I always lumped this attention to detail as just part of my "clean" design aesthetic. Now there's a term for it... UX. The User Experience is what everyone is focusing on now. For example, making a website simple to navigate, making your message clear and easily understood on a promotional rack card or ad, or communicating a sense of honesty and trust with a glance of a logo. These are all part of the user experience, but the current definition doesn't take it far enough for me.

The mainstream focus with UX is to make it as easy as possible for someone to get the content desired, and that's great. But, the last part that no one really talks about is "why." The answer is simple, to communicate your message, capture their information, and secure sales. When I've needed advice and critique on my work, my good friend always said two words that are so important; the most important part of UX. He would ask, "So what?" To elaborate, when something is designed and presented to an audience, there is a message to be heard, so if you ask that little question every time and with every piece of work created, the response needs to be appropriate for the goal of the design.

If you hand someone a business card that looks amazing but is too hard to read quickly, ask the question. "Here's this beautiful card that I can't get info from. So what?" What was the point? You've made no connection and slightly soured your brand and reputation with a bad piece of collateral. The design is obviously bad and needs to be revisited. Asking "so what?" will get you to the truth of a situation and issue every single time and without emotion. THIS is the whole point of the UX. If the user's experience is bad, then the design is wrong, and the opportunity is lost.

I have been aware of the UX decades before the term UX existed. A major part of hiring Karlfred Design is knowing that each piece of design work produced is assessed for the potential UX and how that moment occurs to ensure that the outcome is successful in the communication of the message intended to be received.