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The Users of Everyday Experiences

Once you enter the world of UX, you can never go back.

I can't open an app without having an opinion about its menu navigation. I automatically analyse every website's content hierarchy. And even non-tech products and experiences, like getting through airport security or ordering a shake at McDonald's, are filtered through a thick UX lens.

Thing is, all of us do this, even those who aren't UX professionals. We're all experiencing something; the difference is how we label that experience. One user can close the post office's website feeling vaguely frustrated, though they're not sure why; a second user feels annoyed and knows it's because the site didn't tell them they'd need to have two types of ID ready to create an account; and the third user, perhaps a UX Writer, knows that the flow would have been more intuitive if the empty state outlined requirements, the six steps were combined into three, and the system status was constantly displayed.

UX Writers and Designers like to talk about information hierarchy and affordance and pain points and backlogs and conversion rates. All this stuff is valid, and even incredibly important, but knowing these terms isn't everything. UX professionals don't have better experiences than average users. We just process them differently.

So it's important to remember that the user doesn't need to know the 10 usability heuristics to be frustrated when they're not used. I'm not more frustrated at the airport than my friend when we travel together; I just think about efficiency of use while she things man, this is taking forever. The pitfall here is believing my view is more advanced, because guess what? We're both frustrated, and that's what matters.

Design has more to do with emotions than logic. UX terms and principles should be tools used to solve a problem: how does the user feel, what do they want to do, and how can we make the process as painless as possible? The answer may be add error prevention and provide documentation, but we can only reach those solutions when we remember what UX stands for.


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