User Experience Design: The Art and Science of Making Lovable Products
User Experience Design: The Art and Science of Making Lovable Products
  • Jiyoung Kwahk, Ph.D.
  • 승인 2016.05.04 17:01
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What is user experience?
You may not have ever heard of user experience, UX, because it is a relatively new concept and difficult for non-designers to understand. Whenever I get a chance to talk to people who are new to UX, I do my best to explain what it is and why it is so important, as a passionate advocate. The most frequent feedback I get, though, is that it is too hard to figure out exactly what it is, even if everyone agrees that it seems quite important. That’s why I kept inventing a better metaphor to explain what UX is, and I started using a ‘friendship’ metaphor recently.
When two people meet for the first time, ‘appearances’ make good or bad first impressions. As they spend some time together, the ‘behavioral characteristics’ play a more active role than the first impressions in making them like or dislike each other. After they get along with each other for a long time, they get used to each other, build trust, and often share similar ‘custom and habit.’ The best friends are always supportive of each other, and their ‘desire and emotion’ lasts for the rest of their lives even if one friend passes away.
The most recent international standard, ISO 9241-210, defines that user experience is ‘a person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product.’ The operational definition may vary depending on the product types of interest – in fact, this is why it is so difficult for most people to understand what UX is. One fact that remains unchanged, however, is that every product we use has a user experience which ripens with time, going through a process similar to friendship development as shown in Figure 1.
What is user experience design?
You may now be wondering, “What do you mean by user experience design?” meaning, “How dare you say you can design my experience?” The goal of user experience design is far from designing somebody’s experience. Rather, UX design is the process of making a ‘lovable’ product and encompasses a variety of disciplines such as psychology, aesthetics, usability, engineering, marketing, and business.
Good user experience is designed based on careful considerations of all the users' emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use of a product. So experienced UX designers are well aware of the cognitive, affective, physical, and socio-cultural characteristics of humans.
A typical user experience design process is iterative in nature as shown in Figure 2. The process starts with ‘user research’ to understand the target users and their needs. The results help UX designers gain insights and ‘define problems’ by identifying the most important and critical problems that call for an action. The UX team continues creative workshops to ‘ideate solutions’ and to develop a winning ‘UX strategy.’
When the resulting UX strategy meets market desirability, technical feasibility, and business viability at the same time, it is time to move on to the ‘design’ phase. It helps the UX team have more confidence in their design to ‘prototype’ even in low fidelities as paper-and-pencil, because they can then ‘test’ the designs to see if they work and fix the problems before delivery.
Why is user experience so important?
Despite its broader definition, UX is best-known as what you can see and touch on the screen of a computer or a smart phone. The growth of internet and mobile applications has made UX gain huge interest and increasingly driven the demand for UX skills. As a result, UX designer is now widely recognized as a key role in a growing number of companies and even named one of the hottest jobs in America. But the true impact of a UX designer’s role has yet to begin.
Like I mentioned, everything has a user experience. In other words, user experience is something you encounter everywhere in your life whenever you interact with a variety of ‘things’ at home, in your car, at school, in shops and restaurants, or even in an amusement park, to name only a few. Besides, those ‘things’ will not be silent, dumb objects any more. More and more ‘things’ are becoming smart, connected devices with the big wave of the internet of things, IoT.
So I don’t think the UX designers in the IoT era, five to ten years from now, will be designing web pages or mobile applications any more. Instead, they will be leading bigger, multi-functional social service design teams, responsible for designing the whole city to be a more productive and safe place, helping out people who suffer from social problems, and, as a result, making the world a better place to live in.