UX: the cursed abbreviation

Sean Hangel - 22 May 2019

The term UX, or user experience, is becoming more and more saturated to the point where it’s become confusing for a lot of people. Since UX is a relatively new area, the terms don’t have a set definition causing people to come up with their own. You’ll see these terms pop up in job vacancies or blog posts and more often than not they don’t really explain what they mean.

We are not claiming to know the true meaning of these terms, but rather instead presenting our own definitions to share within our company, our clients and other people who struggle with the semantics.

User Experience (UX)

The experience a user has with a product or service is summarized as being their first interaction with the product/service to their last, or rather when the interaction between the two comes to an end. If the user experience is bad e.g. it could be a problem with the product (doesn’t work well) or marketing (didn’t live up to users expectations). The UX influences users’ brand perception.

UX Design

When talking about the UX, we as designers talk about the UX we designed for the user to have. The team that designed the product has deliberately designed, marketed and supported the product in a specific way to create an experience for the user. This is not always the case and when it’s not thought out well enough, users stumble on those problems and have a negative user experience. When designed well, the user will effortlessly use the product or service over and over again in manners which delight them and entice them for further interaction.

UX Designer

UX is a broad term, so is a UX designer. If we work with the definition mentioned above of UX design, a UX designer should:

    • Do the quantitive & qualitative research
    • Find a product-solution fit
    • Find a solution-market fit
    • Create concept for the product
    • Design the interaction
    • Create the information architecture
    • Design the user interface of the product
    • Write the copy
    • Test the product with users
    • Consider the positioning of the product in the market
    • Create a story to sell the product
    • Market the product
    • We could go on and on. But you get the gist, not many individuals can do this all by themselves.

    What most people mean when talking about UX designers is probably an interaction designer who does most of the first part: research user needs, translate those into the interaction design (how the product should work), and test the product with users to validate their design assumptions. The role of a visual designer is predominantly to translate the interaction design to something that is aesthetic, has proper contrast for readability and is consistent in color and typography.

    UX Team

    As we use the definition of a UX Designer as above, it is rare to meet a single person that has all the skills (and time) to design the complete UX of a product or service. A UX team consists of multiple people with different skills and backgrounds that together design the UX. The team can for example exist of UX researchers, Interaction Designers, Visual Designers, Copywriters and front-end developers.

    "It is rare to meet a single person that has all the skills and time to design the complete UX of a product or service."

    Lean UX

    This is a term that became famous of the book The Lean Startup and later popularised by the book The Lean UX. It’s a method or approach that quickly validates assumptions and designs, without creating a lot of UX deliverables upfront. It says that you should never work on an assumption, instead you should always validate your assumptions as quick as possible to learn about user needs. This way you avoid the chance of developing a product that users don’t want.

    UX Lead

    A UX lead is generally a role someone has in a company or project who has a lot of experience and UX leadership qualities. A UX lead is mostly responsible for the designs of the product, discussing and deciding how to approach the project with the client.

    UX Leadership

    UX leadership is a quality that is sometimes required when a team working on the product has multiple designers. This helps with guiding the designers towards the same goal, achieving consistency and setting up the vision for the product.

    UX Management

    UX management is the discipline that shows how important a good user experience is for the business and brand.

    Its goal is to achieve business goals through optimising the UX. It’s also where priorities are made for what the next steps are for the product. It could be used to convince the business side why UX matters and why it’s important to invest time into it.

    UX Research

    A UX researcher is a specialist role that focusses solely on researching (potential) users for the product. They gather soft data as user needs and what pain points a user encounters along their user journey. They are experienced in doing field research about a specific location or situation and know different methods for observing or gathering knowledge. They also gather hard data like demographics and statistics.

    The different UX terms have a lot in common with each other and because of that it can easily become confusing. We hope that this might have helped you by giving a bit of context on our view and definition of some key UX terminology.

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    Sean Hangel

    Interaction Designer

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