What is User Experience

What is User Experience?

By Insight Platforms

  • article
  • User Experience (UX) Research
  • User Testing
  • Qualitative Research
  • Usability Testing

Have you ever gone to open an interesting website or article, only to minimize the tab waiting for the page to open slowly? When you finally circle back to the website, you find confusing buttons, persistent loading delays, and glitches when attempting to interact with the content.

Suddenly, the information you were previously seeking just isn’t that interesting anymore, and exiting a page has never been an easier decision. This is a failed user experience (UX).

However, bad UX doesn’t only take place online. UX fails happen all around us in real life: every time you go to the gym and can’t figure out how to use a piece of equipment safely, when you can’t find a specific item in a grocery store, or when you just can’t quite figure out how to piece together that chair you bought from an undisclosed furniture distributor (probably IKEA).

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to mistake UX as just another layer to the design process.  However, truly grasping how to connect with humans requires a mental shift— re-programming your mind to consider all of the ways people experience systems and objects created by other people.

User experience (UX) is grounded in empathy – understanding the user’s perspective, their needs, and their values. Check out our course to learn more about User Experience Research:

User Experience Briefly

At its core, user experience represents the entirety of the end-user’s interaction with a company and its offerings, and it’s a multidimensional practice that encompasses every aspect of the user’s perception, emotion, and connection to the brand, product, or service.

Don Norman and Jacob Nielsen, co-founders of the Nielsen Norman Group, are credited with being the first to explore the intricate relationship between users and objects, leading to the development of strategies aimed at enhancing this connection.

As we mentioned above, user experience research isn’t confined to the digital sphere. It also encompasses real-life interactions, including:

  • A user’s interaction with in-store customer service agents
  • How effectively consumers are able to locate and discover products in-store
  • How understandable the instructions are to a product or service
  • How consumers interact with products on the shelves

Why Constantly Refining User Experience Matters

When we interact with the products and environments around us, we often don’t think about the design decisions behind them. However, a well-designed user experience (UX) isn’t just intuitive by chance. It’s the result of careful research and continuous refinement.

Take the ‘Norman Doors’ example. Often, when you approach a door with a handle, your instinct might be to pull. However, you later realize (with a tinge of frustration) that it is meant to be pushed. While this common experience may cause minor annoyance, it can also be considered a failure in design. The question researchers should ask themselves is, “ How can we make sure users push the door open rather than pull?”

The solution: They should find a way to indicate to users to ‘push’ instead of ‘pull’, as a handle can be considered misleading.

Usability and the Cost of Bad Design

Usability is a key player in user experience and satisfaction. When design falls short, it can create a ripple effect of negative consequences, from wasted time to financial costs to dwindling loyalty.

Users often internalize frustration when they encounter difficulties, whether struggling with a stubborn door, grappling with a new device, or navigating a perplexing website—all attributable to design flaws.

Poor design can lead to wasted time, increased costs, and ultimately a loss in user satisfaction and loyalty. Just as a frustrating door experience can ruin an individual’s perception of a building, a poorly designed digital interface can tarnish the image of a brand.

There are several key components that make for good usability:

  • Effectiveness: Does the product, service, or interface enable a user to achieve their goals?
  • Efficiency: Can users perform tasks quickly and easily, without unnecessary steps?
  • Engagement: Is it pleasant to use?
  • Errors: Can the system tolerate user errors or is it highly intolerant? Can users recover easily if they make a mistake?
  • Easy to learn: Can users quickly use the product or service without a heavy cognitive load?

Better usability leads to satisfied users and, by extension, more successful products.

User Experience and Research

Even common user experiences like how to get people to push open a door with a handle or benefit from careful investigation to identify fails and opportunities for improvement. Enter user research. User experience research (UXR) uncovers insights into how users interact with products or systems, what problems they encounter, and what improvements could enhance their overall experience.


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