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Does UX apply to documents such as a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation?

In other words, should the writer take into consideration the readers' experience of the document?

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Please expand on your question. What do you mean by "Does UX apply"? Are you intending to ask whether a user's experience of reading a document is something the writer should take into consideration? – Rahul Apr 6 '11 at 23:24
User Experience as a concept would apply to most anything a human would interact with. – DA01 Apr 7 '11 at 0:22
@DA01 I concur. Why not move that into an answer? – HaL Apr 7 '11 at 13:46
good idea. Done! – DA01 Apr 7 '11 at 14:58
up vote 8 down vote accepted

It does, in the sense that it's important for the document to be clear, structured and readable. The principles of good technical writing are eventually aimed at providing good UX for the reader (short paragraphs, a funnel structure, coherent navigation within the document etc).

The same goes for spreadsheets - if your user/reader can't find his way around the spreadsheet and a lot of different data is stuck into the same sheet, that's bad UX.

But few people realize these things and treat them as such - and it definitely doesn't mean that any UX person is good at writing or at designing word documents and spreadsheets. They often don't realize that they should be guided by the same principles when working on that, and it's a skill like any other.

It also doesn't mean that technical writers are automatically good UX people :)

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Per Hal's suggestion, I'll move my comment into an answer:

User Experience as a concept would apply to most anything a human would interact with.

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As analogy, I just interviewed someone who had a 7 page resume. No page x of y at the bottom. The text was dry and boring. If I dropped the stack, Id have a rough time figuring out the order. It was hard to scan. It made me annoyed to prepare for the interview.

In this case, I am the user and he is designng my UX. He is the application. Every person has psychology and is affected by the artifacts we present to them. Everyone in the world is a UX designer whether they think they are or not. Unfortunately, most people arent very good at it.

The answer to your question is yes.

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UX of documents is a huge topic of discussion, and there is a lot of useful and interesting research into this. Much of Tufte's work on Powerpoint (amongst other things) is essentially concerned with user experience and interaction design.

For an example see this: It's part of his longer look at using PowerPoint for disseminating info, and why it is intractable.

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