In the last few years the term User Experience has come to the fore, and with it we’ve seen the rise of the UX Designer.
Every few months someone tweets a pair of images, one will be a biscuit (labeled ‘UI’), and the other will be a smug face eating said biscuit (labeled ‘UX’). A few weeks later a heartfelt post will appear on Medium refuting the tweet by arguing that the correct definition of ‘UI’ is the mug of tea into which the biscuit was dunked.
These metaphors are seized upon, because “UX Design” has become a catch-all term for a process we’re still trying to define.
UX CAN’T BE DESIGNED
Well, it can…in some fringe cases…
A roller coaster designer for example, could be said to be designing experiences. A roller coaster is a sensorily overwhelming experience; with the extreme changes in gravity, balance, sound, air pressure, on a thrill ride you barely notice that all you usually see is the back of the seat in front of you. A roller coaster is an experience that can be designed because the variation of experience is limited. But even then, we can’t control the length of the queue, the weather, or the amount of strawberry milkshake the kid sat beside you sucked up before riding.
You might also say that a movie director is a UX designer. Sitting in a movie theater watching a film we’re engrossed in a single linear narrative. Provided the spell isn’t broken by someone’s mobile, the entire audience will experience the same emotional highs and lows for two hours plus.
We can create a framework within which user experiences can occur, but we cannot design them