At last we are humanising computer programs. User interface design is now practiced less as systems engineering and more as designing experiences. In app design there is a crossover between physical world actions and the actions we perform on computer device. Both are integral to the design process. We can’t design screen based applications without knowing what’s going on in the real world. The context in which people use apps.
There are a few acronyms you might know about, such as UX, CX or EX. Buzzwords soon become abstract, UX can be confused with graphic design. If we’re not engaged in the effects technology has on people, (through research or testing) then we’re simply doing old fashioned art direction and marketing. So it’s good to try and understand what UX terminology actually means in practice. It’s the whole experience of a product, from the website interface, to how a business operates.
UX design examines our ever-increasing connectedness with technology, how our emotions need to be served well by usable websites and apps. There are different user contexts, like customer or employee, both interacting with a computer device, each with a unique viewpoint. An employee needs to do their job efficiently, a customer wants a painless transaction. Both are human beings, and we all need technology to work for us, not against.
UX – User Experience
UX design is primarily concerned with on-screen interactions, but also needs to consider the environment in which an app is being used. Our screens are increasingly full to the brim with competing apps and notifications, so UX designers needs to make sure screen tools are easy to operate. We often design for small, phone screens as a priority, working our way up to laptops, then desktop screens, which are still widely used in office environments. What UX design wants to learn is how we “feel” when interacting with virtual tools on a screen, which can also apply to kiosks like ticket machines or ATMs.
CX – Customer Experience
Customer Experience (CX) considers the entire customer journey. From browsing a products page and filling out the checkout form to the product delivery tracking system, confirmation emails and the delivery itself. A digital shop assistant is now a chatbot, though I think this needs working on! We cannot lose sight of the human element, while also considering that the experience will never feel totally natural. Digital transactions are more of a convenience. Customer Experience must also consider human interactions, perhaps how a service is handled over the telephone by a call centre.
EX – Employee Experience
The usability of intranets and workplace tools affects productivity and job satisfaction. The Employee Experience (EX) might include checking stock levels, running an intranet, publishing content or analysing data. The positive experience of workplace technology is as important as designing a nice experience for customers. If software is clunky, then quality of service may drop. When businesses generate negative headlines due to customer anxiety over services, it’s more likely that there are flaws in the design of, behind-the-scenes, workplace technology.
HCI – Human Computer Interaction
It is daunting for designers when considering the diversity of experiences, desires or pain points and the different contexts in which people are using screen based technology, whether at work or as a consumer. It really pays to find out who your audience are. People can generally be grouped by community, whether in a virtual or physical space. Designers also consider social norms, how people tend to follow what everyone else is doing. You can then begin to build a picture of the people you are designing for.
It is convenient for designers to neatly partition each area of experience design into UX, CX and EX. But the reality is more blurry. Acronyms are easily thrown around without knowing what they mean. Experience design is understanding our relationship with technology. Is it a positive or negative experience when using technology? Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is an old scientific term from the 1980s. We have reached the stage where real human emotions must be considered when designing technology, whoever you are and wherever you are located.