It’s a cool, sunny late Autumn Sunday morning. You live in the countryside; the nearest village is a mile away. It’s been a while since you bought a Sunday paper. But for some reason, you want one.
When car manufacturers design a new automobile, they develop requirements, conduct research, draw designs, make scale models, test scale models in wind tunnels, computer model their ideas, build full-scale prototypes, test them, and iterate the designs – all of this before putting them into production.
As individuals, we have many user experiences over the course of a day. Certainly over the course of a week, month, year… indeed a lifetime. In a sense, we become experienced users over time of many things, and remain inexperienced users of many other things. In some instances we feel we can extrapolate the experience by comparing it to ‘like’ experiences.
When it comes to designing apps for use on the internet, software, or web, everyone is an experienced user. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten over the years in dealing with clients and colleagues.
Let’s take clients. They are often made up of many constituents: a business owner, stakeholders, marketers, project managers, IT geeks, editors, business analysts, and possibly even cobbled together components of a web team. Each of them has an opinion. Each of them view digital projects in terms of their own interests, experience, discipline and exposure (or lack thereof) to similar types of projects. They also have their own agendas – which are a double edged sword – that guide their actions.
So, I feel caught in a language loop recently. I talk about (and practice) User Experience. I do these things in the digital/mobile space. And really, I’m mostly focusing on good, strategic paths to design.
But all of it is an illusion.
User experience is pervasive. It is ubiquitous. Like air. And I don’t design air… I breathe it, I need it to live, I experience it, it’s all around me. It’s ubiquitous too.
User experience is about more than just digital experiences. If we accept that it is pervasive, ubiquitous, we have to accept that it extends well beyond our digital boundaries. But we most often hear about “UX” in relation to developing digital experiences.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘edges’ of user experience lately. Most projects demand tactical UX – a bit of research, some wireframes, perhaps a prototype, and some annotation.
It slots neatly into place in a project process.
But ‘User’ experience isn’t quite so tidy. Actual user experience is ubiquitous, pervasive. It doesn’t have neat edges or clear boundaries.
I’ve been talking a lot about pervasive UX recently. In the sense of brand, to me it encompasses all of the potential touch-points encountered by a user on journey.
A few weeks before it launched, Tom Loosemore kindly invited me over for a preview of the Alphagov prototype. I was given a whirlwind tour of their agile process and some of the thinking behind their work. Not to mention a very dark – and thick – cup of coffee. Hey, I’m not complaining. I like it that way.
I met a few of the team (some of whom I already knew), and watched as a group of Government Communication types were taken through the same whirlwind tour – a mix of curious and skeptical faces making up the lot.
On the whole, it was a pleasant visit.