User experience (UX) design is the process used to determine what the experience will be like when a user interacts with your product. UX design has many definitions because it spans many areas of the design discipline. It encompasses traditional computer interaction as well as information architecture, visual design, usability, and user research.
Since the 1940s, UX has focused on the interaction between users, machines, and their contextual environments. In the 1990s, UX started to become a concern for designers due to the proliferation of workplace computers. The term user experience was coined by Donald Norman while he was vice president of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple.1
I invented the term because I thought ‘human interface’ and ‘usability’ were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system, including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. Since then, the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose its meaning.Donald Norman2
UX is the link between what you offer and your users. It can help decide if people come back to your product or if they leave. It is integrated into software development to inform feature requirements and interaction plans based on users’ goals. The benefits associated with UX design principles include:
User interface (UI) design is often associated with UX design. At the most basic level, the UI is the series of screens, pages, views, and visual elements that you use to interact with a device, product, or service. UX is the complete experience that a user has as they interact with every aspect of your company's products and services.
Both design disciplines are crucial to the success of a product. But despite their collaborative relationship, the roles are entirely different. UX design is a more analytical and technical field, and UI design is closer to what most people refer to as graphic design. A complete product experience starts with UX and follows with great UI.
With UX design playing such an essential role in the success of a product, designers in this discipline often collaborate closely with product managers. An easy way to understand who owns what is to think about the “what” as product management and the “how” as user experience.
The table below breaks down a few of the tasks and crossover functions between UX and PM.
|User experience||Crossover functions||Product management|
|Information architecture||User research||Prioritization|
|Interaction design||User stories||Data analysis|
|Visual design||Competitor analysis||Scope planning|
|UI sketching||Product/market fit|
|Journey mapping||KPI monitoring|
Before completing any designs, it is important to note that the product manager should be setting the product's strategy. When UX designers have a clear picture of where the product is going and why, they produce new designs with the strategy in mind.
UX designers and product managers can work incredibly well together in an iterative and collaborative way. Product managers can own the roadmap, which helps develop the UX designer's understanding of the industry and the technologies in play. On the other hand, UX designers can help mold the complete product experience so that it achieves both the user's and PM's objectives.
Whether you offer a product or service, every business can benefit from UX design. It can help you clearly understand the goals of your users and provide the guidance for building a successful experience.
1 Uxdesign.com, "UX Design Defined", 16/08/2010
2 Merholz, Peter (2007). "Peter in Conversation with Don Norman About UX & Innovation". Adaptive Path.