Can anyone tell me if there is an established classification and category for UX?


You are in a bookstore and looking for books related to UX, under which section would you go look for user experience related information. (The same can be applied to online bookstores)

From what I have seen, based on the wide variety of fields that incorporate UX, I have found it in categories such as Software, Design, Psychology and Science.

So does anyone know if there is an industry standard when you would want to categorise UX?

Based on the question Peter had asked I have provided some more reasoning behind why I am interested in this:

  1. Research and personal interest (curiosity).
  2. I am part of an internal social network where I run a group around "UX". I also run a group called "Design". I often find that design related would fit in the "UX Group" and the UX material would fit into the "Design Group".
  3. I am building a product design website/blog where one big area is UX and I don't want to just go in blindly adding everything under UX and as well as other categories.
  4. Often when browsing for UX books in online and physical stores (as well as iBooks) UX is scattered all over the place.
  • Academically, my PhD (in HCI) is classified as psychology, broadly speaking. The problem is that the discipline as a whole draws from a range of sources, quite properly, so it fits into all of these categories (and more) depending on what aspect of UX you are talking about. – Schroedingers Cat Jun 22 '12 at 11:57
  • I'd like to understand why you are interested - is it to research into UX, or to look for material about it, or something else? – Peter Jun 22 '12 at 12:53
  • Updated my question which now includes my interest around the question. – Adriaan Jun 22 '12 at 14:00
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    It really depends how granular you want to go. As @greenforest points out in the answer below, Amazon have an 'Interface Design' book category, but that's pretty granular. A UX book is still equally validly categorized if it's found in a gas station shop underneath the 'Books' section. – JonW Jun 22 '12 at 14:11

EDIT: This might help. An article pondering 'If everything is design, then what is a designer?'. Link to PDF report. Basically, UX is a form of design. Also see 'Design thinking' as a topic.

For me, UX is the intersection of:

  • Psychology (science)
  • Business
  • Design

Though these diagrams show a slight variation of this:

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  • Can't believe I never thought about it in the way you said: 'UX is a form of design'. Ever since things in the ux vs design world has started making much more sense and fits much better together. Thanks! – Adriaan Jun 27 '12 at 9:39
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    @AdriaanFenwick I like this quote: "Design is problem solving... Everything you interact with every single day has been designed by someone." Considering this, UX just brings a different set of skills to find the problem and it's solution. – Jay Jun 27 '12 at 10:15

UX is interdisciplinary and shares this categorization 'problem' with other domains, e.g. Product Management. Even the specific fields of UX can't be categorized clearly sometimes.

The following are just some examples:

  • User research -> Psychology, but also a bit Statistics
  • Information architecture -> Psychology, but also Linguistics
  • Visual/UI design -> Graphic design
  • Interaction design -> Graphic design, Computer science
  • Product design -> Industrial design
  • Web development -> Computer science
  • Content/Copy writing -> Linguistics, also Psychology
  • Marketing -> Psychology, Linguistics, Management


Amazon is also not sure how to categorize the books, see this example from Steve Krug's 'Don't make me think' on Amazon.com: enter image description here

  • Not to mention that Amazon is a massive retailer with enough product to make such granular categorization plausible. I've yet to see a physical bookshop of any size that has an 'Interface Design' section in their store. – JonW Jun 22 '12 at 14:08
  • Amazon will do any categorises that deem fit for marketing purpose. Not strictly logic rules. – I'll-Be-Back Jul 11 '13 at 15:09

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