A general term that covers all aspects of a user’s participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.
A user’s experience can be influenced by usability, responsiveness, pre-existing knowledge and aesthetics. Some users experiences can be subjective so when analysing them one must always gather enough data to form an objective median, taking into account any specific biases relating to the target audience.
The practice of User Experience Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, pre-existing knowledge and aesthetics.
A user’s experience is important to understand as it can affect their interaction and opinion with the thing you have designed and the organisation behind it. We usually describe components of a negative User Experience as friction that good design looks to remove. By better understanding the User Experience you can design to remove friction, decreasing the likelihood of frustration and generally fostering positive (specifically not negative) feelings about the thing that is being used. There are exceptions and sometimes it might be necessary to intentionally add friction into a user’s experience in order to achieve a specific objective.
A user’s experience can be observed via user testing, user research, or collecting and observing analytics. This data can be used to inform the design process to improve the User Experience.