The term user experience (often referred to as UX for short) gets banded about quite a lot, especially in the digital industry. But what is user experience and is it something you should be looking at for current or future projects?

User experience is something we’ve all come across. Not only that, but we’ve all experienced it much more frequently than any one might think. In fact, you’re experiencing it right now whilst using this (or indeed any) website.

ISO describes user experience as:

“a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use of a product or service”

And this product or service could literally be anything from a smart phone or web site, to driving your car to work in the morning.

I would argue that good UX is just as important as a visual identity. Possibly more so. If your product is something that people can’t use, then it doesn’t matter what it looks like; people won’t be able to use it or find the information they want and so they won’t.

Bad UX is everywhere and we’ve all used products or services that didn’t quite work how we expected or something that doesn’t quite do what is needed. I’ll bet they’re not services or products you used again, are they? We tend to remember a bad experience a lot longer then we remember a good one, and we’re also more likely to warn people we know against using those products or services. In fact, good user experience isn’t always something that’s noticed at all. When was the last time you went out of your way to call up a company to thank them for a good service?

So why is this? I think it’s quite simply because it was expected. The product or service was so seamless that you didn’t need to think about what you were doing; it’s just something that worked, was easy to use and gave you the information you needed. That’s basically what UX boils down to; putting yourself in the user’s shoes and trying to give them what they need, in a way that they expect. Now this sounds simple, but there are a lot of things that need to be considered. When we look at UX from a digital perspective, we look at things like information architecture, interaction design, content, functionality, usability, performance, interface and until we finally get to the overall design. All of these things need to be considered and designed around what the user will want and expect.

In conclusion, user experience is an important tool and one that shouldn’t be overlooked regardless of the project size. It’s something that can really help you engage with and build stronger relationships with your customers. After all if someone enjoys using your product, they will come back.