User experience, a broader perspective

Defining User Experience (UX)

UX is concerned with the qualification (+/ quantification) of externalized (+ observable) behavior for a person using a specific tool (+ service) to complete a certain task in a given setting.

As a branch of usability, which itself is concerned with productivity (effectiveness, efficiency), UX is task oriented. It is concerned with the qualification of observable user behavior in the process of achieving a clear intentional goal.

For instance while usability may be concerned with the quantification of how fast and effectively a user can use a smartphone app to take and share a picture, UX may be concerned with externalized behavior in the process of taking and sharing a picture using that app.

Externalized Vs Internalized experiences

If UX focuses on qualifying externalized user behavior, it is not concerned with qualifying internalized behavior; i.e. the impact of the task on the user. Confoundingly, the qualification of behavior exhibited while using a specific tool to complete a task reinforces the necessity of the user to carryout the task.

It is one thing to qualify what a user does during work and another to qualify what the work does to the user.

For instance, UX may qualify externalized behavior for students using a specific app in their learning, but it does not qualify behavior internalized by the students during schooling. In addition, in qualifying the app, UX reinforces the necessity for schooling. (See Gatto, 1992 – invisible curriculum)

The connect percentage

In the sport of boxing, it is not enough that performance is qualified as a win or a loss. Because of the high possibility that a boxer who lands the most punches may lose a bout, another method of quantifying skill is necessary. A connect percentage is used to quantify the number of punches a boxer lands as positive and the number of punches landed on them as negative. Few boxers have a positive connect percentage. In the sport, connect percentage broadens the perspective for qualifying boxers.

If UX only qualifies externalized user behavior during work, then whatever is qualified is minuscule considering what is left out and the sum of the two.

Work Vs Play

If work is the process of carrying out actions in order to achieve a clearly identified goal, then work is concerned with productivity. On the other hand, if play is the process of carrying out self assigned actions without the necessity to achieve a clearly identified goal, then play is not concerned with productivity and is undertaken for its own sake.

If UX is concerned with qualifying externalized behavior during work, then UX cannot qualify internalized and externalized behaviors during play. As a result, UX is concerned with the transformation of play in to work for the sake of qualification.

Mechanizing the human experience

If there are a 100 ways to kill a rat, a rat killing machine can only accommodate a few, if more than one. Consequently, human ingenuity has to be set aside to qualify externalized behavior for a rat killing machine.

If we set our spontaneity aside and deny our originality in order to operate machines, then we make ourselves into machinery in order to operate them. There is no style in operating a machine; the more efficient the machine, the more it either limits or absorbs our uniqueness into its operation.

If we make use of machinery in the belief we can increase the range of our freedom, and instead only decrease it, and if UX is concerned with qualifying behavior externalized when using machinery at work, then UX is concerned with the mechanization of behavior for the sake of qualification.

Conforming behavior

If UX is concerned with qualifying externalized mechanized behavior, when a worker’s spontaneity and originality has been set aside, then UX is concerned with conforming user behavior for the sake of productivity.

Momentary Vs Sustained behavior / short vs long term impact

UX qualifies externalized worker behavior during the usage of a specific tool to accomplish a task. As a result, UX is concerned with externalized behavior in the moment of work and not necessarily concerned with the long term behavior.

Tools (+ services) that may seemingly be qualified as having good UX in their moments of usage, may in the long run be injurious to the user.

Qualification based on fallible cultural values,

When the integrity and existence of memes in a society is manipulated either via the promotion or suppression of select memes, then the points of references for meaning making are inherently compromised. The qualification of such meaning will by default also be compromised.

As a result, UX may be a reliable qualification of externalized meanings of work but may not always be valid. If a society comes to believe that peace must be pursued by force, or that its existence is only possible via the control of others, then its usage of machines of war and control may qualify highly in UX while the acts of war and control may be questionable.

Ref:

  • Law, E. L. C., Roto, V., Hassenzahl, M., Vermeeren, A. P., & Kort, J. (2009, April). Understanding, scoping and defining user experience: a survey approach. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 719-728). ACM. Chicago
  • Carse, J. P. (1986). Finite and infinite games.
  • McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world.
  • Gray, P. (2012). Can you measure an education? Can you define life’s meaning? Available from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201212/can-you-measure-education-can-you-define-life-s-meaning
  • Gatto, J. T. (1992). Dumbing us down. Philadelphia: New Society.
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