August 10, 2014
Summary: UX teams are responsible for creating desirable experiences for users. Yet many organizations fail to include users in the development process. Without customer input, organizations risk creating interfaces that fail.
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A website’s (or product’s) success depends on how users perceive it. Users assess the usefulness and ease of use of websites as they interact with them, forming their conclusions in seconds—sometimes milliseconds.
Users base their decisions on whether to engage with a site based on questions like, “Does it have value to me? Is it easy to use? Am I delighted by the experience?” A good user experience leaves users answering ‘yes’ to all of these questions.
What is User Experience (UX)?
User Experience (UX) is a common term in the design community, but its definition is somewhat elusive, even amongst the UX community. The founders of Nielsen Norman Group, Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen, defined UX as follows when they started the company in 1998:
The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.” (See full UX definition)
In other words, UX teams and practitioners should strive to create products that users want and need, and design them in a way that is easy and joyful to use. User experience is concerned with everything that affects users and their interaction with the product.
Of course everyone wants to achieve an exemplary user experience. However, in practice, many organizations fall short of understanding what is required to make this happen. Although the field of user experience has gained popularity, bad design practices still exist in many organizations.
The User Experience is Everyone’s Responsibility
Having a UX department or UX title does not mean you are practicing UX. To achieve an exemplary user experience, coordination must be achieved among multiple disciplines, including product management, development, marketing, content, customer service, graphic design, and interaction design. In other words, everyone is responsible for looking out for the user. Take users’ needs into account during every step of the product lifecycle, by keeping your users at the center of your design efforts.
An orchestrated approach across many disciplines and stakeholders must be achieved to create a truly effective user experience and for the company to thrive. For a product to be truly successful, user-centered design must complement (or even drive) business objectives.