The Essence of User Experience

The Essence of User Experience

Posted on November 22, 2013 0 Comments

As the VP of User Experience and Product Design at Progress, and a staunch believer of the power of user experience and design, I believe that there is more to a product that just features and functions. As Don Norman says “It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives.”

As consumers in this digital age, we are drawn to experiences that are more than the products themselves. Even in a commoditized world, it's the end to end experiences, powered by design thinking, which truly set apart a successful product from a wannabe.  Why do we need to do this through design?  Because design provides us the channel, process and framework to build user experiences. “Design creates stories, and stories create memorable experiences, and great experiences have this innate ability to change the way in which we view our world." –Christian Saylor

Graphics; intuitiveness; usability; ease of use; look and feel; user interface; GUI; software interface; and pretty icons are probably just some of the things that come to mind when you think about user experience. But what is user experience?really all about? In the few months I have been at Progress, I have received a lot of questions surrounding this topic, so I wanted to elaborate on the two most common and fundamental misconceptions about user experience.

Myth 1: User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are the same thing.

For starters, UX is not equal to UI. User Interface is just one aspect of the user experience.  While there are many definitions of user experience, the ones below are closely aligned with my perspective:

"User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products." – Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen

"User experience is the science and art of designing a product like a website or a software application so that it’s easy to use. So that it fits the expectation that the user has for it, and so that it meets business goals." – Dr Susan Weinschenk

"[UX] is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." – Steve Jobs

"UX is the intangible design of a strategy that brings us to a solution." – Erik Flowers

Many facets of user experience design go beyond the boundaries of just the interface:


Another example of the difference between UI and UX  is the graphic below, done by Ed Lea:


I bet you are going to think about UX the next time you have cereal :)

In the enterprise space, one of the major user experience goals is to enhance the productivity and efficiency for the user in effectively accomplishing their goals and tasks. The challenge is to define productivity experiences that take into account the user type, user expectations, context of use, user motivation and emotions, other tools and experiences used by the user, and a slew of other factors that extend beyond the boundaries of a user interface.

Myth 2: There is no real return on investment with UX, it’s just a service.

Increasingly UX has become a mainstream expectation from users as well as business leaders and the ROI on UX is becoming highly recognized by industry leaders, such as Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter.

User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don’t know user-centered design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.” – Evan Williams, CEO Twitter

This short video by Dr Susan Weinschenk talks about some concrete examples of the ROI of UX:

At Progress, I have the privilege in leading an immensely talented UX team to bring in innovative experiences to you, with the help of our world class Product Development team. Getting the user experience right will be a journey as opposed to a flip of a magical switch. As we take strides toward where we want to be, I look forward to taking this journey together with you: our customers, partners and users.  Stay tuned to know more about how you can be our design partners and directly influence the product strategy and experiences.

Arin Bhowmick

Vice President, User Experience and Product Design at Progress


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