Commandment #5: Obsess over experiences outside of the digital interface as much as you do for those inside them
All good digital designers work incredibly hard towards crafting a great experience within the “interface” they believe they are directly responsible for, whether it’s an app, product or website. This is because they primarily equate their work with designing user interfaces on digital devices and are primarily concerned with the functionalities and aesthetics of a product.
However, the influence of a digital designer needs to be so much more. It’s to create a more holistic experience for their users, where the definition of experience is stretched beyond pure interaction with digital interfaces, to include the overall offering of how people perceive their brand, interact with product or even speak to the customer service!
Don Norman — the first User Experience Architect at Apple — coined the term ‘User Experience Design’:
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual.”
The entire experience (with a product or brand) is not limited to digital devices but is a mix of digital, brick-and-mortar, and human-to-human interactions. Even within the realm of digital, new modes of interaction are emerging that function beyond the screen — voice and gestures, interactions with IoT devices, wearables, and robots. These technological trends are paving the push to break away from UX design’s digital-only tag. For instance, Voice AI forces designers to consider more than just visual experience but the experience of users that are remote from a screen — where they are, what they want or need and how they want to get it and so on.
Such holistic experience considers human moments contextually throughout the customer journey and touchpoints and incorporate designing an experience where the whole is considered more than the sum of its parts. As designers, we must be thinking about all the parties involved, such as customers, employees, people up and down the supply chain and make the world better by improving all of those people’s experiences through our design. If we do UX properly, we should also be thinking about these users holistically, taking into account not just the moment in time when they are using your app, but all of their recent experiences leading up to using the app.
Today, more and more brands are looking to create this kind of holistic experience, so my takeaway for young upcoming talent is to take a very holistic approach to design, learn to see the big picture and to go beyond just the online skills of interaction design and visual design. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you put your user first across all touch points, and stop prioritizing one type of interaction over the other.