User Experience Design wasn’t always a hot topic that it is now. Although its origins can be traced back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term was created by Donald Norman when he joined Apple in mid-1990s. With degrees in Computer Science and Psychology and a research background in Cognitive Sciences, he was brought into Apple as a ‘User Experience Architect’ – a job title created specifically for him. The term is meant to be all encompassing – covering all aspects of a user’s interaction with a product: physical, technical, and psychological. Its formal definition – “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system, or service” – does justice to its wide applicability.
User Experience has now come out of the shadows of elite firms such as Apple and Disney to hit the mainstream. It is now considered an integral part of the product design and development strategy. End-users are now situated at the heart of a product strategy. Just developing a product that works and adding more features in it is not sufficient, it should be intuitive and effortless to use. The product development strategy should encompass all aspects. From functionality to interface. From technology to design. From getting the job done to crafting innovative experiences.
A quick analysis on Google Trends confirms the rise in interest for User Experience Design. While the term “User Experience” always seems to have some interest, it has been rising gradually since 2004. On the other hand, the term “UX Design” had minimal interest through 2004 to 2010 and witnessed an exponential increase from 2010 to 2017. The interest in “UX Design” has actually overtaken the interest in “User Experience” in mid-2016. This can be attributed to the rise in job opportunities related to UX Design.
The increased focus on digital has acted as a catalyst to the rise of User Experience Design. The rise in websites, applications, smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other smart devices means that there are multiple touch points available for interaction with the end consumers. It is now imperative for firms to focus on providing seamless cross-platform experience to their users. For instance, a retailer’s users can interact through its website, mobile / tablet application, and / or offline stores. It falls upon the retailer to engage the users and optimize their experience on all the platforms.
This has also led to a surge in M&A activity in the space with Tech services companies building their design capabilities. Wipro acquired Cooper earlier this month, its second acquisition in the space after Designit; Infosys acquired Brilliant Basics; Accenture has acquired Matter, Wire Stone, The Monkeys, and SinnerSchrader; Zensar acquired Foolproof; Genpact acquired TandemSeven – to list a few transactions.
The interest in User Experience Design is here to stay and will most likely continue to increase. It has fundamentally changed the product strategy, development, and marketing, which has shifted its focus from the features and functionalities to delivering great experiences. The interest will likely be fuelled by the emerging digital devices and technologies – Artificial Intelligence (specifically Chatbots), Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Connected Devices (IoT) – that demand much more emphasis on the User Experience.