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User Experience is…

The folks at GiantUX (organizers of the GIANT Conference in Charleston, SC, where I’ll be speaking in June) asked me to describe UX in 200 words or less. Here’s what I gave them.

User Experience is a commitment to developing products and services with purpose, compassion, and integrity. It is the never-ending process of seeing the world from the customers’ perspective and working to improve the quality of their lives. It is the never-ending process of maintaining the health of the business and finding new ways to help it grow sustainably. It is the perfect balance between making money and making meaning.

The user experience practitioner is neither sage nor saint; it is not their role to have all the answers to life’s questions or to advocate for altruism in a capitalist society. They are simply the facilitators of a more collaborative, transparent way of operating in business today — breaking down the walls between silos and bringing the customer into the boardroom.

User Experience is the responsibility of every member of the organization; it is a central philosophy, shared principles. It is not a series of activities and deliverables to perform, but an enlightened way of being.

UX is mindfulness.

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  • Lawrence Francell

    “It is the never-ending process of seeing the world from the customers’ perspective and working to improve the quality of their lives.”

    I like how concisely you stated the role of Experience Development. I would like to add that the customers’ are not the only users, but the developers, the project managers and the entirety of the company are too. I see our role as working to facilitate our technical knowledge and skills with a mind to make everyone’s life easier.

    User Experience development has brought development tools like Sass, Haml, Less, JQuery, etc. to the forefront of the development process. Some tools are redundant, some are cumbersome and some are specialized. However, they are thought of to solve problems for the development of the project. With the developer being seen as a user too, the responsibility falls on everyone to make things better.

    You stated this all much more eloquently than I have.

    “User Experience is the responsibility of every member of the organization.”

    I’m going to quote you on the board at work. Thanks!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Yes, you are most certainly right about that, Lawrence. I write a bunch on employee experience as well.

  • Yo Dirkx

    Very poetic, but I don’t agree with “with purpose, compassion, and integrity”. It’s only about the result. If the designers are grumpy people whp hate their job and clients and clients’ clients, they can still create great UX. It’s usually a good ingredient though.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      I’ve been doing this work for a decade, and I can tell you incontrovertibly that unpleasant people cannot create pleasant experiences.

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  • http://dboudreau.tumblr.com Denis Boudreau

    Interesting how your definition fits just as elegantly for Web accessibility… but then again, web accessibility is really just a subset of UX focused on users with disabilities… or so it should be viewed anyway.

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