UX Beyond the Web

I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of user experience (aka “UX”). Generally when people use the term “UX” they’re referring to the interaction a visitor has with a website – how smoothly they’re able to move through a site, get the information they want, and complete tasks. The discussions focus on things like whether or not the site was thoughtfully planned out and executed with the end user’s experience in mind. And this is great.

But it’s almost entirely focused on websites. And that’s not so great.

Don’t get me wrong. UX is extremely important to websites, and not nearly enough designers/developers/content managers take it into consideration properly. But the concept of user experience is by definition not solely about websites. It’s about… well… the user’s experience. What that person is a user of is completely and deliberately undefined.

Initial warning screen on a DVD.
Photo by txspiked

Ever put a in DVD or Blu-ray? Chances are the first thing you saw was a giant warning screen that you couldn’t skip past. Maybe there were a few of them in a row, maybe some producer’s logos… all before you ever get to the menu screen. Think of how much visual design may have gone into the menu screens for the disc, but they’re not the first interaction you have with that product. The very first interaction you have is a federal warning that you might go to jail. Not good.

Backing up a few interaction steps from there, what about packaging? Everyone’s had a run-in with blister packaging – the almost impossible to open, heat-sealed plastic designed for anti-theft purposes. That’s essentially your first actual interaction with that product, and it’s not pleasant. That’s bad UX.

I raised this question briefly on Twitter and got a handful of responses, one of which was that this should be a topic for a future mkeUX meetup. That would be a great discussion, but I’m not much of a presenter. So – are you (or do you know anyone) in or near Milwaukee and have some thoughts on “user experience beyond the web“? I’m hoping to find some people who maybe work in product design, or physical-world user experience design, who are willing to brainstorm some presentation ideas or even do the presenting themselves if so inclined.