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This article is reproduced from Econsultancy’s report, User Experience and Interaction Design, authored by Steffan Aquarone and Will Grant, and also available as a quick guide.

Jakob Nielsen, a UX consultant who The New York Times has called “the guru of web page usability”, wrote:

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

More often than not, UX is focused on the digital arena and refers to interfaces, interactions and the design of software products for desktop and mobile.

But UX can span a range of departments within a company, far beyond the developers implementing user interface (UI) designs, or the marketer writing copy for an email campaign. Many, including the experts interviewed for Econsultancy’s guide to the discipline, comment that UX is more of a guiding principle.

However, due to heavy workloads, time pressures and performance metrics, the focus is often restricted to short-term commercial success rather than longer-term customer experience metrics, and UX can end up feeling like an accessory to the current process.

How can organisations make people engage with their products and services and make it easy for users to achieve their goals?

A successful UX approach can help increase conversion and support other business goals, both strategic and commercial. The key to an effective UX execution is rooted in psychology: How can organisations make people engage with their products and services and make it easy for users to achieve their goals?

The extent to which organisations can create a high-quality UX will vary wildly from organisation to organisation. There may be a UX specialist team that provides best practice guidance and standards for executing campaigns, or it could be that UX is seen as everyone’s responsibility and appears at every juncture, from a call centre welcome script to the experience the customer receives unboxing a hardware product.

In some organisations – such as those that have a mature understanding of UX as a discipline that goes beyond purely interaction design – work will often involve building empathy with customers and finding solutions to their problems: employing curiosity, iterating and testing rapidly. The challenge is getting users, making them happy and learning from them.

Whatever the organisation’s relationship with UX, the goal should be the same: to make a product or experience that solves a problem for a user and delights them in the process of solving it.

Key phrases demystified

User experience (UX) is a discipline where designers aim to improve all aspects of an end user’s interaction with a product or service. UX encompasses many other disciplines, including human-computer interaction, interaction design, visual design, process management and information architecture.

The user interface (UI) is the part of a product that the customer interacts with. It could be the steering wheel of a car or the ‘push a number’ menu on a telephone system. Often, the UI will be software, which might be tapped on a smartphone screen or clicked with a cursor.

Interaction design is the practice of designing interactive digital products, systems and services. It can be applied to non-digital products, but most interaction designers work in software, building usable interfaces and enhancing the user experience of their products. Interaction designers spend their time thinking: “how can we help our users do this task better?”

Econsultancy offers training in customer experience, including:

  Defining customer needs
  Using data to understand customer experience
  Developing a path to purchase that drives customer satisfaction
  Customer journey mapping
  User research and usability testing
  Customer experience analytics
  Voice of customer and CSAT

We offer training across digital and ecommerce, as well as creating bespoke marketing academies.