complex anatomy design balls coming off of a central ball

The term “user experience design” is thrown around a lot, but there’s little consensus on what it actually means. One reason may be the sheer number of disciplines that contribute to UXD, and the difficulty in defining how they work together.

Fast Company’s design blog, recently featured an infographic that organizes these relationships into an elegant Venn diagram:

But does the diagram really help to explain UXD? To us, the complexity of the diagram itself underscores the truth about UXD: it is the amorphous result of the interrelationships among many tasks and skills, and so it’s nearly impossible to define.

It also makes it clear why UX is so often less than excellent. There are lots of moving parts to coordinate, and many cooks in the kitchen, a classic recipe for product failure. One way to help assure that UX is not getting lost is to test with end users throughout the development process. By testing along the way, the development team can make adjustments before problems get deeply embedded in the project. As the article notes, “To think any designer could be an expert in each of these circles is sheer absurdity, but to recognize that every end user is an expert in each of these circles is highly important. As humans and end users, we might not know what makes an experience right, but we certainly know when it’s wrong.”