Some number of you reading this have, like myself, worked with the UX operating system (one flavor of UNIX). Today, that’s not what I mean. Today, I mean “UX” as “User Experience.”
In a recent post, I talked about how I am DEFINITELY not a designer at Web-Site Updates. This led to some of you responding with your own stories about how you also aren’t designers and ended up being a fun exchange of stories between us. In addition, just yesterday, I was e-mailing with Doug Holbrook of iVention US about the mobile app I’m creating for him and ended up telling him he’ll know it’s from me when he receives it because it’s just THAT hideous! 🙂
All joking aside, if it’s hideous enough that even I know it, even I can fix it up a bit, so don’t worry, plus Doug actually can match colors and will give me some changes, I’m sure.
Now, for the Actual Topic
Back to today’s topic, though, which is UX – User Experience. UX isn’t just about design – it’s about the entire user experience. How many times have users complained because the flow through the system is awkward or because they have to many steps or too many return keys? This is part of the “user experience.” When they don’t understand the controls on the page, that is also part of the user experience. UX experts looks at the entire experience, from the actual design to the flow. Some of the vendors in our industry employ full-time UX experts, others occasionally use UX consultants when they need to and, yet others, don’t bother with this, at all, and maybe we can even figure out which ones these are, in most cases.
As a person who designs these programs, myself, I will tell you all that programmer/designers like me do a great job understanding what the system does and staying within its boundaries. But leaving the entire process up to us isn’t always the best idea. For a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) implementation, that might be fine, but it probably isn’t a good idea for an entire system build. Anyone working with software should read why in this book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity.