Well, ok – not really – but the idea i’d like to explore with this provocative title is that the U in UX, standing for User and being rooted in HCI and digital history as it is, means that UX is a term and discipline that is concerned with those human experiences that have a significant digital aspect to them.
Whitney Hess’ excellent article 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design includes a quote from Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design, “User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen”. Whitney herself then says, “Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are”.
Well, we could refer to someone using a light-switch or a doorknob as a “user”, but we don’t, and when was the last time someone designing a doorknob referred to themselves as a User Experience Designer?
Now if we drop “User” and just referred to “Experience Design” we could make a case for this being a discipline that transcends mediums – think Disney imagineers for example.
Thinking about the human experience is not the exclusive domain of UX, other design disciplines like Architecture, Landscape Design, and Industrial Design to name just a few, have been doing it for decades or centuries. UX is simply applying that thinking to experiences where there is a significant digital element.
P.S. I forgot to mention that it was this article in UX Magazine that prompted me to write this.