I was thinking tonight as I prepared to go out for the evening that I have often struggled to define user experience and the benefits of it to the industry that creates experiences for a living, the gaming industry. User experience done well is often subtle and seamless. It’s an experience a user rarely notices because everything just simply makes sense. The buttons are where they need to be, the content is easily found, the messaging clear, and the flow feels flawless. In one case one of my projects delivered nearly a 300% return on the investment the company made because my team and I fought tirelessly for the user. Therefore, it clearly has value.
Yet as a gamer and one that has been doing a lot of research on Facebook games of late, I find a lot of the games have little things that drive me up the wall. Some are slow to respond. Others have pop over layers that fly in my face constantly. In one case in particular, I could be in the middle of picking up goods, xp, or coins I need to keep my city alive and, “POOF”, yet, another annoying popover. Still, I keep going back because there’s an emotional element of accomplishment within the game that keeps me tied to it. “I must become mayor today!”, I think as I clear trees, build businesses and housing, working tirelessly to build my city into something I am proud of.
Thus if you take this emotional element and combine it with user experience you get nirvana! Which makes me curious, why then are UX professionals fighting over what we call ourselves when what we need to be focused on is, why even hire us? We are after all, information architects, content strategiests, visual designers, librarians, business strategiests, interaction designers and more. UX is a melting pot of an industry full of creative, intelligent, amazingly talented folks who offer solutions to common business problems. Therefore, shouldn’t we focus more on results and what we can deliver to our clients then trying to figure out what to call ourselves.
Just my 2 cents, anyway.