Since When Is "User Experience" a Synonym for "Good"?

--- Originally published on the Adaptive Path Blog ---

I returned home from the IA Summit 2007 last night, and a burr has been rubbing my hide ever since. Since the Summit happened in Las Vegas this year, there was a lot of talk about the UX of Las Vegas, and how bad it was. Or rather, that Las Vegas didn't really have a UX because it was bad. Because if you planned a UX it had to be a good one.


Folks, everything that we come into contact with we have an experience with. That experience may be positive, or negative or neutral. It may be planned or accidental. It may be created out of an effort to make the world a better place. Or it may result from manipulative and selfish motivations. Either way, we (the users) are having an experience with said item, be it a website, a hotel, a towel or a piece of gum. Not to mention the fact that these are subjective determinations unique to each individual.

What I don't understand is when the term "UX" took on the implicit connotation that to have a UX, whatever it is must derive from a place of wanting to improve the world. When did UX mean to make things better and good, to be altruistic and benevolent? Now, don't get me wrong. Those are very noble goals, and they are certainly motivators for the work I do. But, come on.

"User experience" is a neutral term, in and of itself. It's something that just exists, that just happens. Labeling it as a good UX or a poor UX or a manipulative UX is needed to clarify what type of experience we are talking about. For as much as IAs love their labels, this is a strange instance for us to forget them.

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This page contains a single entry by Chiara published on March 27, 2007 12:40 PM.

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