User experience can be designed

I’ve never fully bought into the “user experience cannot be designed” argument. You could say I’m biased because user experience design is how I choose to make my living, but I would (surprise!) disagree with that as well. Consider this paragraph from Chris Dixon’s excellent post The experience economy:

Experiences make people happier than products (a fact that scientific studies support). The popularity of experiences like music concerts has skyrocketed compared to corresponding products like music recordings. Apple, the most valuable company in the world, maniacally focuses on product experiences, down to minute details like the experience of unboxing an iPhone. Customers want to know where their food and clothes come from, so they can understand the experiences surrounding them. The emphasis on experiences also helps explain other large trends like the migration to cities. Cities have always offered the trade-off of fewer goods and less space in exchange for better experiences.

The main argument against experience design is that we can’t control context of use, no matter how hard we try. But the above examples are all cases where we can control enough of the context of use to make a reasonable assumption about the type of experience the majority of users will have. The same goes for web sites — through creativity and a little user testing, we can get to a similar level of comfort with how most users will experience our sites/apps.

So, don’t give up, experience designers. We can build great experiences for our users (while also meeting business goals at the same time).