The Nielsen Norman Group, a leading voice in the user experience field, summarizes user experience in the following way: “‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” They go on to elaborate this idea further by saying, “In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company's offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”

This graphic developed by Information Architects, Inc. does a great job of illustrating the wide spectrum of user experience.

Stepping back and looking at this broader definition of UX has been something I’ve been thinking about for a few months now. It began back in July when my wife, Beth, and a small team from her company, went to Los Angeles to do customer research (she works for a national outdoor retailer). The team was lead by Sarah, the Design Insights Manager, and their focus was to interview existing cycling customers to discover why and how they use the products they have purchased and to understand their attitudes toward the brand and the products they own. They visited customers in their homes and stopped by bike shops and collectives all to chat about bikes, gear, and the overall bike culture in LA.

When Beth returned home and recalled the many great conversations they had had I remember thinking what a great way to connect with your customers, learn more about how you can improve products, and hopefully strengthen the brand for that customer and future customers. She also told me that Sarah and her team have done similar “insights” trips focused on hiking customers. They hiked part of the Appalachian Trail and conducted interviews with hikers along the way. How cool is that?

I never even knew something like this existed! It makes sense that it would. It’s the followup you need to have with existing users to ensure that the experiences you’re creating keep improving. 

For me it’s encouraging to see this broader view of UX. Being a UX designer is proving to cast a wider net of possibilities than I originally thought.