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I'm trying to explain what UX Design is to my not-too-tech-savvy parents. All the descriptions I've come across thus far are lengthy and "deep" and very task-oriented. I've yet to find a concise paragraph or two (ironic -- because I want this description to be maximally usable by the parents).

Anyone know of a resource or method of explaining it?

I found http://startupsthisishowdesignworks.com/ and this paragraph seems pretty good (although could be meh out of context):

User Experience (UX) design "incorporates aspects of psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science. Depending on the purpose of the product, UX may also involve content design disciplines such as communication design, instructional design, or game design."

The goal of UX design is to create a seamless, simple, and useful interaction between a user and a product, whether it be hardware or software. As with UI design, user experience design focuses on creating interactions designed to meet or assist a user's goals and needs.

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It's about creating a tool for a task, and making it so that people can do the task without really noticing they're using the tool. –  Roger Attrill May 5 '12 at 18:34
    
I typically describe it much like @RogerAttrill's comment. Unlike many other aspects of "a technical profession" (writ large), UX is ready made for explaining to non-tech-savvy people... –  jcmeloni May 5 '12 at 20:47
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Dieter Rams was a UX Designer. –  PhillipW May 6 '12 at 8:51
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Designing difficult things is simple; designing simple things is difficult. –  zzzzBov May 8 '12 at 13:30

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

User experience is about making the things you do easy rather than frustrating. It is about taking complex tasks, like ordering something from Amazon, and finding ways to take people through the process so they understand what is happening, what they need to do, and accomplish their task. Computers are immensely complex; UX is about making that complexity manageable for everyone, not just geeks.

UX isn't just about computers however; it's also about physical items. In fact, the 'Good Grips' series of kitchen and household tools is all about applying better usability to common tools to make them easier and more pleasant to use. UX work is a large part of what architects do... designing homes and buildings that are easy and pleasant to use, not just pretty.

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+1 for the comment that UX is not just about computers. Nearly everything can benefit from better UX design. Look at how chairs, for example, have evolved over the years to provide a better experience for the people sitting in them. –  cspray May 11 '12 at 17:44
    
There are many aspects to the 'experience' of the users, and usability, joy, simplicity are just some of the things that can be engineered and designed by UX professionals. –  Michael Lai Aug 19 '13 at 0:38

Ask them:

"What software do you love using? Which software do you hate using?"

Then point out the one you love likely had user experience people on the team.

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Simplicity rules! Great answer! –  Benny Skogberg MCSA May 6 '12 at 19:51

I've had the same problem with my parents and narrowed it down to:

I make websites and computer programs easier to use.

:)

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Is it just about being easier to user? Because that would be dealing with usability issues primarily. You also want to make people love or enjoy using the websites/programs. –  Michael Lai Aug 19 '13 at 0:36

Some days ago I was watching this video of Sarah Kahn (UX Engineer for Adzerk) which she made for a video course on tutsplus. I would suggest to see this video http://tutsplus.com/lesson/what-is-ux-design/ here Sarah is explaining what is UX design with examples.

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I have a made up a line for these times and it works most of the times :

We design the Look and Feel with respect to the Behavior of the end user

Its the experience people get before, after and during the interaction with the product. By knowing the behaviors of the users we try to create them a better ecosystem with our products.

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That seems to be a better description for a graphic designer than someone who specializes in the experience of a site. –  ajkochanowicz May 6 '12 at 3:17
    
@ajkochanowicz Graphic designer really doesn't have to care anything about behaviors of the users, This line is specially to those who create the UI coming from the UX field. –  Pratheep ch May 6 '12 at 11:55
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Graphic Designers absolutely have to care about the behaviors of the users. UX isn't done in an isolated silo, everyone involved with the project have to care about UX. –  DA01 May 6 '12 at 19:22
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@DA01 Ya I totally agree, nowadays its like .. "everyone in the team should care and know about UX". But when it comes to big agencies graphic designers are taken from the pressure of ux , as there is big team specially for UX. –  Pratheep ch May 6 '12 at 20:44

I see myself as an engineer building roads for computers. There is a goal and there is a lot of possible ways to reach it. My task is to find the best, most efficient road to reach the goal.

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