Here’s a shocker, people interact with their phones more than ever before!
According to KPCB's report, we spend on average close to 6 hours daily consuming online media and of the majority of those, 3.3 hours are spent on our phones. This all-time high puts a wave of pressure on the creators of mobile apps.
There is a very thin line that differentiates a good app from a bad one in the mobile world. The indicator of a successful app is, in the majority of cases, a simple and straightforward user experience (UX). Nowadays, we, as mobile users, expect a lot more from apps than just a fast loading time. As a result, the user experience and its design has moved from a minor component of product creation to probably the most important part of product strategy.
But, what is ‘user experience’ by design and where did it originate?
The ‘Fuzzy’ Definition Of UX
In the past, specific designers of the user experience didn’t exist. It was simply product designers, engineers and customer service agents who were working towards creating the perfect product. Nowadays, it is a whole new ball game.
The meaning of UX carries multiple elements and that could be a reason why there is no universally accepted definition yet. Generally, we can say that it is a human-centred approach to innovation that is widely used in the consumer technology industry. But in reality, it is more than that.
Firstly, we need to understand that design is the practice of creating the specific elements of a product in order to solve a problem. Secondly, that user experience is judged on emotion and ultimately what the user feels, wants, thinks, believes, remembers and often doesn’t realise.
Now, when we put these elements together, the user experience design is about how you make people feel, think and do things, without them realising it.
User Experience. When And Where Did It Come From?
It's a fair question but not so difficult to answer. If we look closely at the everyday things we do, it’s not hard to identify some kind of user experience in almost all aspects of our lives, often without us realising.
Let's take food shopping as an example.
Try to answer these questions based on your habits:
Have you ever written down the exact things you wanted to buy on a shopping list but then came back with more than what was on your list? You bought those chocolate bars or chewing gum that were by the checkouts? Or have you seen something on sale so you bought it even though you didn’t really need it? Do you remember if the smell of freshly baked bread made you want to buy it?
All of these things that unintentionally make you buy things you didn’t need encompass the user or in this case, consumer experience promoted by the supermarket. These emotional purchases, also known as impulse buys, can lead to as much as 50% of purchases being unplanned according to Business Insider.
And these experiences as such, have been with us for centuries. From the first pictogram drawings on cave walls aiming to solve problems, all the way to modern era mobile app engagements.
Apple's Don Norman who wrote 'The Design of Everyday Things' is the first one who coined the title of 'User Experience Architect' as a potential in 1995. He was helping to research and design human-centric products and as of today, we can say he has laid a great example how the user experience should be done. Just look at the simplicity of Apple products and the service one receives when shopping with them.
What Does The Future Hold For UX?
That is hard to say but the evolution and importance of UX is obvious, opening up a space for even more specialised skill sets in the technology based job market.
Certainly, tech-based user experience is not limited to just websites, computers and mobile phones. Home assistants, wearables and even implantable will slowly begin overtaking our everyday lives. This presents unlimited opportunities for companies on how to design different ways of interaction that will ultimately improve people's lives.
The importance of user experience is booming and in the next article we will look into how user experience is important when crafting a banking app.