The term user experience was coined in 1993 by Don Norman while working at Apple. He intended it to encompass a person’s entire experience related to a product, from any feelings they had prior to using it, to first seeing it in the store, getting it home, turning it on and learning how to use it, telling someone else about it, etc.
I highly recommend this short video where Mr. Norman explains this history and also complains about the frequent misuse of the word:
How does UX relate to human factors engineering?
Human factors is an umbrella term that covers a range of fields which design and evaluate the human interfaces of a system. We often think of a system as hardware and/or software, but it can also include social and organizational interfaces.
Thus, UX is very much a type of human factors. UX is distinguished from related specialties like human computer interaction (HCI) or interaction design by extending the scope of consideration beyond the product itself to any interface which might affect the user’s perceptions and feelings of the product. Yet, the goal is the same: understand the human’s needs in order to design interfaces that meet them1.
Recently the field of customer experience (CX) has begun to emerge. CX focuses on whatever interactions a customer has with a business, which may be independent of a product user experience. CX and UX are the same basic concept, just with slightly varying scopes. CX emphasizes the design of the sales process and the customer as a user of that process. A product UX team may not consider the sales process if the “user” isn’t the same as the customer.
Why do we care about the user’s experience? For the same reason we care about all of the other functions of human factors. People seek out products and services to meet their needs. When we meet those needs better than the competition2, they’ll come back for more.
- Some people describe the goal of UX as ‘delighting the user’. This is nonsense. Emotions definitely fall in the scope of UX and other human factors specialties, but not every product and service exists to ‘delight’ people. Sometimes, just getting it done easily and with minimal friction is the best you can hope for. Nobody is going to be delighted by the experience of paying a parking ticket.
- Sometimes through the emotion of delight.