Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Elastic Term: User Experience

I read this article by Radialpoint about a survey they conducted. It was titled, "Survey Indicates Most Consumers Seek Better User Experience for Internet Services." No shit. I feel like there are more and more articles like this, containing quotes like these:

Nearly half of respondents indicated that they would be more likely to stay with their ISP if their ISP provided a better user experience to discover, acquire, and use these services on an ongoing basis.

Only half? Imagine if they defined what that "better user experience" was. Maybe 125% of the respondents would be happy to stay. I bet you could do a lot with that data point.

Garrison Keillor once offered his thoughts on the defecatory habits of bears to the U.S. Forestry Service. He did so after hearing that the U.S. Department of Education spent $750,000 on a study to learn if looking at art is good for schoolchildren. I'm going to patent the concept that all people want better user experience. Please pay me a small stipend instead of asking this question in your next survey.

User Experience, the term, has become elastic. Just as UX Designfolk quite often fight against Alan Cooper's elastic user, we now have to work hard to define what UX is. People are using it for so many things, and they are all seeking to expand or enhance it. It is now a big huge bucket for all those things that are hard to define when it comes to customers interacting with a product. A problem is that people don't go that extra mile to attempt to define it. It's become like the term "organic." It's hard to define but everyone accepts it as a good thing. Label any food organic and you can immediately charge more for it and people will accept it.

Maybe this is the result of it being a buzzword these days. Maybe it is easier for people to consume than usability or ethnography. Is it sexier? The new Black? One thing for sure is that we now have The Elastic Term to deal with: User Experience.

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