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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Is User Experience Also a Quality?

7:11:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
You might wonder why the concept of user experience is not mentioned in my previous post. Peter Merholz presents some really interesting thoughts in his post "User Experience is a Quality, Not A Discipline" from 2005:
  • "Usability is simply a quality. It's an important quality, but just one of many. And it definitely doesn't warrant being a "discipline."
  • "User experience is not a discipline, or an approach, it's a thing, a quality, an emergent property between a person and a product or service.
  • "This puts me in direct opposition with Jesse's diagram. Those aren't elements of user experience. Those are elements of web design."
  • "User experience should not be just about interactive systems -- it's a quality that reflects the sum total of a person's experiences with any product, service, organization."
I basically agree with this reasoning, especially that usability is a quality and that Jesse James Garretts model "The Elements of User Experiences" is focused on web design. Which Jesse also declares in his book with the same name: "This book is about the user experience of one particular kind of product: Web sites". But I don't agree with Peter that the user experience is simply one quality among many others.

A user experience of a product, service or organization is the sum of all its qualities as perceived by the individual user who experiences it. It also includes the value dimension. Furthermore, each user experience is affected by all previous experiences the user has had with the product, service or organization in question. In a sense, the user experience is the overall quality of a product, service or organization as perceived and experienced by an individual.

Hence, I have not made user experience to a quality among the others in my post "The User Experience Onion". A user experience is not an individual layer of the onion, it is the sum of all layers, the onion itself. And the user experience is created when the content product ("the onion") is consumed by an individual user.

If you are interested, I borrowed the onion metaphor from the animated movie Shrek.

SHREK: For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.
DONKEY: Example?
SHREK: Example? Okay, um, ogres are like onions.
DONKEY: [Sniffs] They stink?
SHREK: Yes. No!
DONKEY: They make you cry?
DONKEY: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting' little white hairs.
SHREK: No! Layers! Onions have layers! Ogres have layers! Onions have layers.You get it? We both have layers. [Sighs]
DONKEY: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. [Sniffs] You know, not everybody likes onions. Cake! Everybody loves cakes! Cakes have layers.
SHREK: I don't care... what everyone likes. Ogres are not like cakes.
DONKEY: You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious.
SHREK: No! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story. Bye-bye. See ya later.


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