UX Design, UX Resources

Is UX only digital?

Gemma Burgos, UX-konsult

It is common to think of UX design as something that belongs mainly to the digital space, but is that entirely correct? In this article, we will dig deeper into the meaning of UX design. We will present some definitions of UX, and further address the question if UX design is limited to digital design, or if it encompasses a much wider scope.

Understanding the basics of UX design

UX stands for ‘user experience’, and is about the user’s interaction with a platform, product, or service. Nielsen and Norman describe user experience as including “all aspects of the end-user interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” In other words, “how a product behaves and is used by people”.

From these statements, one can say that the key aim of UX design is to create enjoyable, easy-to-use, and efficient products or services for its users. Recently UX has been associated with the digital tag only, but before we go into it first let’s look into what the UX design process looks like. 

The design process includes multiple phases. In most cases, it begins with a discovery stage together with research to understand both business and user needs, motivations, and preferences. It continues with defining technical constraints, generating personas and customer journeys based on that previous research, as well as creating wireframes and prototypes in an iterative process. These phases are not unique to digital design, nor UX design. This process extends beyond one single design discipline.

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When designing a remote control, for example, ideally you would want to go through most of those different phases. This, to create a product that meets the targeted needs and results in a seamless experience for the customer.

The growth of digital design

In recent years, UX design has been frequently associated with the digital design of products, such as apps and websites. This assumption has been amplified by the time we live in, where digital technology has taken over many aspects of our daily life and interactions. This has caused, not only the digitalization of existing businesses and products, but also the creation of new forms of businesses and products. Therefore, there has been sudden demand from organisations for highly skilled digital designers, to ensure they are in line with the new needs of society.

UX design can be present in many shapes, and one of them is digital. This has become very prominent in the last few years and will probably continue to be for a long time. Even the way we approach digital UX design today will most likely change with new technologies, as it is a constant and ever-evolving format. With the rise of AI, we can already see an impact and change in how we interact, communicate and work.

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Digital UX is one part of UX Design

As we have discussed above, UX design is the creation of interactions between users and products or services that are usable, enjoyable, and efficient. That is in disregard of the format where it is created, but rather as a shared goal across formats. Digital UX design is a more specific form of it that involves creating digital interfaces. 

With this in mind, there is another part of UX design we must discuss. Garret (2010) states that “every product that is used by someone has a user experience: newspapers, ketchup bottles, reclining armchairs, cardigan sweaters”. This means that UX is not only digital, it also goes beyond the digital sphere and applies to physical products and services, such as at the grocery store, the furniture at home, or a car. So everything we see and experience has a user experience, wether it was thoughtfully planned or not. 

Digital and physical products can also meet with the help of UX and become better. An example of this is a banking app, where you can scan an invoice which then automatically fills in the amount, OCR number, and date. Making the payment process a lot smoother!

In summary, UX design can be both digital and physical, although digital UX design is what people usually mean when they talk about UX today. What they have in common is that they strive to create products and services that offer a seamless experience, are accessible and easy to understand, which ultimately helps keep users coming back.

UX Connections, the UX design agency with UX/UI consultants to help your digital product succeed.

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