“Designers love subtle cues because subtlety is one of the traits of sophisticated design.” — Steve Krug
“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” — Adam Judge, Author of “The Little Black Book of Design”
I was quite fascinated with tech acronyms that end with X. Then I went on a journey to understand them, how they overlap and how we as humans feel about them. It may evoke positivity or negativity feelings, may gradually change over time, and may have a limited timespan effect, in varying degrees. That is why whatever appears in Ads and PR exercises can have a lasting impact on people, good or bad. Any product that you use gives you experiences to remember, and we are also prone to the subconscious effects of social media on us. Or because of our current generation.
Some companies bring in people of all age groups, young and old, gender and nationalities to test their products over a long period. I mean, a mobile app or a website. Cameras may be in place to check where your pupils are, how your pupils move and oscillate, screen to screen; why your eyes fixate on specific items on screens and why some product screens get skipped. We may be surprised by the test and research findings. Why one said great, and the other said bad. Why the colour red looked terrible, and the colour green looked great in an A/B type of testing. Why did a person dislike it when ninety-nine others like it, and so on; the list is endless.
The market where the product or the service will be operationally available matters immensely to a business owner. Being sensitive to the sensibilities of communities and traditions cannot be ignored; this is an area of subtle conformity to what people have learnt to expect and imbibed over the years. It is a strong base for design decisions, i.e. a left finger swipe in a particular country may be a right swipe for a different country.
The whole world is moving towards faster concepts in design. The human race has become extremely impatient. We throw a fit even when our Uber comes five minutes late. And we want our apps and websites to open blazingly fast. We will sometimes even blame the mobile app and not the internet connection if the mobile app does not react in nanoseconds. These are irreversible changes in the mindsets of humanity.
You have a high-speed internet connection and a reasonably fast mobile phone, but you still may not like the functioning of an app or a website. What are the reasons that bring us to this situation? It is something most software developers do not care to learn, or they think that it is somebody else’s line of work. It is something to do with aesthetics, but even people with many years of experience do not learn it, majorly out of interest. Or they never think of it as necessary at all. Coders and developers believe that to get the next job, only coding experience is essential, and not precise look and feel.
If you show your product to a hundred people and ask to record five areas that they did not think highly about, you will get five hundred points in a matter of a few minutes. That information will be extremely vital to a business owner or product owner. You will, then, realise the importance of specific X acronyms which you have heard about almost every day, at least with people in Tech or Media or Advertising or Investor communities.
Thirty years ago, we were not even talking about them, and they did not exist, but now these have turned into separate fields of study; they are UI, UX, BX, CX, DX, EX, and HX. UI, UX and DX can be clubbed under another acronym, i.e. TX, that stands for technology experience. TX also includes new technology or advancements in existing technology that enhances our lives and brings joy. There are many comparisons, and Venn diagrams amongst all of these X jargons exist. More importantly, the differences should be understood and brought into the forefront when we think about designing apps and websites. Most of us ignore it by convincing ourselves that all of it only refers to look and feel. But it is a lot more, structured.
I hope I did not miss out any more pertinent Xs. Though I started this article as acronyms that end with X, UI is added too into this list as it has become an almost inseparable part of this whole gamut of experiences. In some companies, these can be individual departments. But whether it should come as pre-development or post-development is a company-level decision. There can be advantages and disadvantages with a pre or a post approach. After the product is ready for functional testing, there are changes done to the app or website because you will get a different feeling when you test out the product as a whole. Some to-and-fro movements will take place before the product is out on the market. Over the years, much science has gone into these fields, backed by much research, not just decided on an ad-hoc basis. However, a majority of enterprise software, unless it is client-facing, still lacks all of these.
I know this acronym does not end with X, but it falls within the same realm of experiences. That is why I have it included. It is an acronym for User Interface. It refers to “Do you like what you see?” It is visible at first sight, including colours. As Dain Miller, Web Developer, says, “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”
It is an acronym for User Experience. It refers to “Do you like how you feel?” It is invisible at first sight but is an intuitive experience. It is about solving a problem through empathy and care. As Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”
It is an acronym for Brand Experience. It refers to “Do you like the power of the brand before, during and after the engagement?” BX creates value for society by creating differentiation through brand equity. It answers the question “Who am I to you?” and it is not just visual identity, logos and social media marketing communications. As Marty Neumeier said, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”
It is an acronym for Customer Experience. It refers to “Have you liked how you have felt all this while?” As Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.”
It is an acronym for Developer Experience. It refers to “How product developers feel when they use your product?” Have you developed using older and bygone technology? In this, we check for things like the programming language, database, API design, framework, quality assurance, testing, developer tooling, SDKs, libraries, wrappers, documentation, release notes, CLI, user guide, stack size, cloud, et cetera. As Martin Golding said, “Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.” Funnily it drives the point home.
It is an acronym for Emotional Experience. It refers to “How to create emotionally-connected customers?” Do you appeal to the human side of your consumers? Brands are turning to neuromarketing wherein customers aren’t conscious at all as to how it is happening. As Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” This acronym, in a different context, also means Employee Experience.
It is an acronym for Human Experience, and it seems to be the newest in the lot but the most holistic. It refers to “What is my experience with this entity, physically and digitally?” In times of crisis, it is only human experience that matters. As the poet, Maya Angelou said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It is an acronym for Innovation Experience. It refers to “Is this a culmination of new products or new services or new technology that will change our lives?” As Elon Musk said, “What makes innovative thinking happen? I think it’s a mindset. You have to decide.” For a software developer, at the end of it, it is not just about getting the job done with a million lines of code and pass on the reigns to somebody else. It is not just about getting a mobile app or a website to be only functionally correct. As these domains, including wireframing, continue to evolve, we will need to understand the multitude of touchpoints with these jargons in websites and mobile apps that may be invisible to most of us. However, as a business owner, we have to keep these in the corner of our mind. You have to be in control of the way your business talks to your customers. It is all about the part that visual communication plays.