The buzzword de jour in the office these days is UX. Everyone is talking about how we “need more UX” as though it is some magic dust we should sprinkle onto products. Unfortunately I’m not convinced that many people understand what UX (User Experience) really means.
In a way, it is magic; but it’s a magic that takes a lot of preparation and hard work to make. You don’t just add User Experience on top of a product; the product is built around it.
The user experience, to my mind, is about the whole lifespan of a product, from buying it through using it to the inevitable retirement.
Marketing types would call it the customer journey probably, but oddly they tend to leave out the middle and end; i.e. Actually using something until it breaks.
Few companies seem to have really grasped what it means. Of course Apple, but they have become an overused trump card in every design discussion.
I think another good example is Amazon and the Kindle. Ok, so the Kindle UI is nothing to write home about; but the advertising, the purchase process, the out of box experience and the ability to buy books over Whispernet all come together to create a great overall experience. It’s still not seamless, but it is so good in the important bits that the other bits don’t matter so much; it engenders the response in the user needed and they become attached to their Kindle.
Out of box experience is probably the best example. If you’ve ordered your Kindle from Amazon directly, they already know your name and account details. This means they can make the out of box experience more exciting and memorable by having the Kindle greet you; how many gadgets have you bought that know your name and can say hello when you first get them?
As we all know, first impressions count. Here they count for Amazon in creating a bond with what is essentially a bit of plastic with some circuit boards in it.