I’ve spent hours in front of my computer screen trying to find out what is UX. It would be too dramatic to say it caused me many sleepless nights, but for a few times I reached the point where my eyes were in pain, my brain was in pain and I still couldn’t grasp what this intricate term meant.
After a few months of collaborating with UX designers, luckily my understanding of User Experience has greatly improved and now I can actually talk about it without just blankly nodding and smiling. Passing it on, let me tell you how I understand UX and why I compare it to a movie.
Imagine a bunch of people working on a movie together: writing the script, casting the crew, creating scenography, shooting the scenes, designing the sound, creating special effects, editing, taking care of distribution… In the end, it all leads to one final product. And when we watch it in theaters afterward, we don’t necessarily think of all those different aspects of movie making. We take it as a whole either enjoying or disliking the work.
This is exactly what User Experience is and how it can be underestimated. Many different activities combined together in a long process, many details and nuances debated over and over again, many things to take into account and… one final product in the end. Plus, the committed team covered in sweat, tears, and cables (you get the tears from watching the screen for too long).
What is UX? Let’s take a closer look
Researching and wireframing is like writing a script. We come up with the story (the product and its aims) analyze protagonists (the users, their needs, behaviors), define locations (contexts of use) and describe each scene. At this stage, everyone already knows the genre of the movie (tone of voice, the look, and feel).
UX is not about creating just a website or an app
Having prepared this solid base, we need to do the casting of the right content: choose well-written texts, accept only high-resolution images, and add appropriate sliders. Finally, here comes what we would call the shooting: we gather all the materials, the content and, following the wireframes, we create a prototype. Afterwards, there’s just pure joy of editing and adding final touches. In the end, you get the app, the website, both or more.
Designing the experience
It’s not the end, though. It would be just too simple. Somehow we need to hear about the movie in the first place. Then we might watch a few trailers, see some posters and read the synopsis. Not to mention the Social Media buzz we follow on different channels. This is what UX is as well.
Why? Primarily because UX is not about creating just a website or an app.
Using two “geeky” letters can trick us into thinking that. We need to remember, though, what the second word means: the experience. This indicates designing how the user interacts with the product or service (and the brand itself) from the very first time he hears about it. It’s making sure he feels the right way whether it’s happiness, satisfaction or motivation.
Consequently, from that moment on, we are on every step of the customer journey: we make sure the company is present in essential Media (Social Media included), provide consistent communications strategy, and expand brand recognition. Then we assure that given website or app are easy to use and serve their main purpose no matter if it’s buying clothes, listening to music, or ordering a burger.
In the end, just like a good movie, UX should also be about emotions. After watching a great production you feel the energy and fulfillment, and want to share it with the world. We want the same thing for our users: to have that kind of emotional experience, to gladly return to those brands and digital products, and really enjoy talking about them to their friends.
The cover photo: “Grand Budapest Hotel”, copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures