Many technology companies now have User Experience, or UX, designers or design departments. One such company in Memphis, TN is Lokion Interactive. Shiloh Barnat, Vice President of Interaction Design, is in charge of the UX design department at Lokion. She says that UX design requires a lot of brainstorming and creativity. “Many times, tech people can lose sight of who is using the technology.” In order to create a good user experience UX designers must, “get out from behind the screen [and] get to know the audiences.” But what exactly is User Experience?
According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), User Experience (UX) is, “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”. More specifically it is how people react to using computer interfaces, whether that interface is with a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Of course, everyone’s perceptions are subjective, so the field of User Experience is always changing. User experience design is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of psychology, anthropology, architecture, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design, cognitive science, communication design, instructional design, and game design.
The purpose of the field of User Experience is to determine what users want, how they use a particular technology or interface, in what environment users are using a technology or interface, what functions users need, how to make the technology or interfaces easier for users to use and how to make them more likely to use the technology or interfaces. The main point of UX design is that it tries to optimize the technology around how users can, want, or need to use the product, rather than forcing the users to change their behavior to accommodate the product.
The field of User Experience design first came about in the 1940s. However, the term User Experience as used in relation to computers and digital systems didn’t exist until the 1990s and didn’t come into wide usage until the introduction of the Web 2.0 in the early 2000s. This is also when it gained the acronym UX. “Many of the technology companies that survived the Internet bust [in the 2000s] were companies that paid attention to User Experience,” says Barnat. Other terms that refer to User Experience include user-centered design, human-computer interaction, and user-experience design.