User experience


Everything We Feel Is Experience

Comfort is an experience. Struggle is an experience. Satisfaction is an experience. Love is an experience. UX is everything a user is able to feel through interaction with a product.

Good UX Is Meeting User Expectations

Users evaluate an experience based on their initial expectations. Good UX occurs when the initial expectations are met.

Great UX Is Exceeding User Expectations

From a user's point of view, when the initial expectations from an interaction with a product are exceeded, that is great UX. From a development point of view, great UX is achieved through gradual incremental improvements: from awful, to bad, to OK, to good and then to great. This means that the proper and effective way to approach UX design is first focus on simply meeting users' expectations and only then think about adding 'sugar' and exceeding them.

Goals & Process Shape UX

Good or bad, user experience is shaped by project goals and development process. The cornerstone of every product are the two key questions: "Why are we doing it?" and "How are we doing it?". The "Why?" question defines the project goals. For example, things we strive to achieve and targets we want to hit, emotions we want to evoke or feedback we want to receive. The "How?" question specifies the process we follow to achieve these goals. For example, our development strategy, the tools we use, the methodologies we implement. Good or bad, a user experience of a product is shaped by the goals we set and a path we follow to achieve them.

Superior Priorities Break UX

UX may break for various reasons. However, in my opinion, the most fundamental, common and hardest problem to solve that causes UX to break is superior priorities. Each department generally has its own priorities. For example, engineers might push for better performance while marketing is trying to fit in every feature that increases sales. Then there are project managers, whose priorities are project schedule, budget and on-time deliveries. On top there are various VPs and directors, who also have their own priorities, based on their background, area of responsibility and various personal factors. Product development process is a constant balancing between these various priorities, each having different weight in the overall stack. Good UX is just another possible priority to choose among all the others. As UX processes are often expensive, demanding and hard to implement, follow and measure, it is really easy for other priorities, like deadlines, budget, additional features, or etc., to win over UX and push it lower down the stack. When this happens UX breaks.

Process Fixes UX

In an effective work environment UX can be fixed by, first of all, setting a goal to create good UX and making UX a major priority at all levels of decision making. After that it comes down to adopting an appropriate iterative process that fits the project, following it and sparing no content or functionality for the sake of improving UX. Creating good UX would also require allocating more time on research, prototyping, user tests and feedback analysis, which are all essential parts of an effective iterative process. However, no process or system can survive human factor. If, for example, UX broke because of human apathy or ignorance, it doesn't matter what methodologies the team follows until the human issue is solved.