Defining User Experience

by Luke Wroblewski March 28, 2009

A while back, Michael Cummings at UX Design asked me what my definition of "user experience" was. While I'm not one to dwell on the labels of people in the digital design profession, I do work with a lot of different professionals who use specific terms to explain what they do. I also work with many people from other disciplines that need to understand what these design professionals do.

So I need a simple and concise way to explain things. For me that has been:

  • Information architecture defines the structure of information (which can exist in many forms).
  • Interaction design enables people to manipulate and contribute to/create that information.
  • Visual design communicates these possibilities to people and creates affinity to them (desirability).
  • User experience is the summation of these considerations.

Some might argue that the term "information" is a bit limiting in this set of definitions and I kind of agree. So anyone who needs a broader purvey for what they work with could simply substitute "information" with "stuff".