How I Define UX

What is UX?

In the last few years, UX has become a critical aspect of building digital products. Today, good UX is what often differentiates a successful product from one that fails. Because of this, UX has become a high priority for companies and an invaluable component of a business. 

So what is UX? And how can we define it to better understand it?

This is Google's definition. 

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Although somewhat helpful, it felt like an empty, unfulfilling definition. I found myself looking for more. I wanted to better understand how real people understood UX and then create a personal definition for myself. 


I teamed up with a designer friend, Cathrine, to do some guerrilla research, interviewing 10 people to better understand how UX is perceived. We looked to friends and strangers -- men and women, people young and old -- and aimed to talk to a group of individuals with a wide range of life and work experiences to help us answer "What does UX means to you?"

Equipped with a notepad and iPhone camera at-the-ready, this is what we discovered after a morning in downtown San Francisco. 


Interviewee in the park

Interviewee in the park

Perhaps my biggest take away from the interviews came from the diversity of answers we received. Some baseline patterns emerged, yet it was clear that UX had many meanings for many different people. Some discussed UX within the context of digital products, while others talked about UX in the real world. Some talked about UX in relation to their feelings and world view while others, having no prior knowledge of what UX was, invented definitions on the spot! You can take a look at a video of selected interviews here

In all, I found that there is not a singular way to define UX. It's a fluid definition that changes depending on who you talk and changes with context. It's not just a term you can search on Google -- it has personal connotations. 

Finally, I defined UX for myself.

My Personal Definition

User experience is about understanding people. It's about asking the right questions.

It's about understanding context, goals, and how one achieves those goals.

It considers psychology, experience and culture, and through design, informs how people interact with and experience the world around them.

I would like to think of this definition as one that will evolve with time. As I continue to build on my experiences, I'll continue to grow my understanding of UX and how I define it. I'm excited to see how this will change over the year and throughout my career.