UIEtips: Designing Great Experiences – The Gap Between Activities

Jared Spool

November 30th, 2010

User Experience, UX, and Experience Design often feel like terms-du-jour: the new, sexy words we use to sell folks on what we do. The terms’ recent rise in popularity left us wondering if anything is new here. Or are we renaming the old arts and disciplines of design?

As we often do, we delved into our research to see if we could answer what’s new about these terms. We found, while people talk frequently about designing experiences, they rarely discuss what that actually means. We also found that designing for experiences is very different than designing for other results.

In this UIEtips, we’ll look at the differences among these terms and how you design for great experiences. If you’ve been calling yourself a user experience designer, I’m sure you’ll find our research helpful to explain what you do and what it takes.

Read the article, Designing Great Experiences – The Gap Between Activities.

While we’re on the subject of designing User Experiences, Leah Buley, who just rocked the UI15 conference, is our next UIE Virtual Seminar presenter. Her December 9 presentation, Lean Methods for the UX Team of One, is not to be missed.

Have you tried to explain experience design to your co-workers? What’s worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

2 Responses to “UIEtips: Designing Great Experiences – The Gap Between Activities”

  1. Linda Francis Says:

    Great article Jared. This concept, of what is between is always what I express to people who have never seen a Cirque Du Soleil show. It is what struck me so profoundly about their shows, that differentiates them from so many other shows. To your point, what is the cost of having a performer dressed as a lizard rapelle (head first) down a side wall of a theatre, crawl along the aisles, then settle on the arm of a chair just to watch the show? The value that lizard and their pose contributes to the overall experience is definite.

  2. Jim Shamlin Says:

    You ask: “Are we renaming the old arts and disciplines of design?”

    Probably so …. but that’s not necessarily a bad thing to do.

    Granted, the obsession with job titles that began a few decades back often seems silly. A janitor can call himself a “sanitation technician” or some other impressive-sounding title, but he’s still the guy who swabs out the commodes. But on the other hand, it does call attention to an aspect of his work that is often overlooked: while the job might seem distasteful, it performs an important function (maintaining a sanitary environment). Narcissism aside, it calls attention to the value he contributes.

    In the same way, “designer” is a title that has little esteem or relevance – it’s just the guy who picks what color things ought to be. The name-change to “experience architect” identifies the value of the task – that the choice of color (among many other elements of design) is not merely an arbitrary choice based on what “looks good”, but is driven by the goal of improving the user experience.

    And ultimately, if the name-game enlightens just a few clients, for just a short amount of time, to the notion that our work is not merely a pastiche of random choices based on personal preferences, I submit that it’s had a positive effect.

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