What is User Experience?

Summary: User experience is created across all the different touchpoints a company interacts with users and potential customers. It goes beyond usability, visual design, or product use.

2 minutes to read. By author Michaela Mora on January 25, 2017
Topics: Business Strategy, Customer Experience, New Product Development, UX Research

What is User Experience?

More and more companies have started paying attention to user experience (UX). This is often associated with the experience of using websites, apps, or physical stores. At times, user experience is reduced to usability issues or impressions from visual design, but it goes beyond that.

Where is the User Experience Happening

The fact is that user experience happens every time a customer interacts with a product or service while:

  • Choosing the product/service
  • Acquiring the product/service
  • Learning to use the product/service
  • Using the product/service
  • Fixing the product/service, if applicable
  • Upgrading the product/service, if applicable

Although the specifics of the experience will be different for a telecom service, utility service, medical office, lawyer office, smartphones, dishwashing machines, etc., the user experience is present nonetheless.

Good User Experience

Good user experience often happens when customers can:

  • Accomplish what they need to do or what is important to them
  • Easily figure out how to use the product or service
  • Have easy access to the product or service with available technology
  • Have fun with it, find it appealing
  • Connect with the company providing the product/service
  • Receive information that allows them to enjoy the product/service, understand how it works, and helps them make the right decisions

Bad User Experience

On the other hand,  bad user experience is often present when customers:

  • Don’t know how to use the system to do what they must do, causing stress and frustration
  • Don’t know where to start or how to use different features that are available, leaving them confused
  • Look at boring or unappealing presentations of product and services
  • Feel forced to engage with features that are irrelevant to what they are trying to accomplish, making the whole process inefficient
  • Spend too much time and effort trying to do something
  • Can’t do things in the most logical way for them, forcing them to do it in the way designers have decided things should work
  • Feel treated in a condescending or disrespectful manner

The Secret Sauce

Above all, the key to a good experience is finding the space in which: what users want to do matches what we want them to do. This is not an easy task.

More often than not, the problem is the lack of a deep understanding of the users. Creators of products and services know their creations in and out, but they are not the users, and can’t see it from their perspective until they do user research.

In other words, being too close to the design of products and services will narrow your vision. It will make you a victim of confirmation bias. You will see what you already know. You will expect only certain types of interactions with your products/services and ignore any potential deviations that can cause a bad experience.