A great way to learn more about user experience and how to apply it in practical settings is to delve into the abundant literature that is available on the Internet. There are many essays and blog posts on the subject – as there are lots of “experts” sharing their perspectives. In this post I would like to suggest two such readings – and a bonus reading for those who want to go a little farther.
A good starting point is the “User Experience White Paper“. It’s somewhat generic and broad, but it should provide a broad overview of what we mean by user experience, both as a phenomenon and a practice. The authors write that “the term user experience is widely used but understood in many different ways…There is no one definition that suits all perspectives.” So true. Even the list of what UX is not is helpful especially that “UX is not technology driven, but focuses on humans.” Even more true.
While it’s a bit heavy on the business orientation, it is worth taking a look at “7 Principles of Extraordinary Customer Experiences.” I think there may be something to principle number 5: Make it easy for your customers to strike up conversations, communicate with one another, and share information. It’s a challenge but are there ways we could get our community members to talk with each other about their research projects and their challenges. And how would we incorporate principle number 7 into our practice?: The key to delivering an extraordinary customer experience is placing the customer at the center your marketing strategy—through content that educates, inspires and connects in whatever medium and through whatever channels your customers live. That seems to be close to what we try to accomplish.
If you want to go beyond these two readings, a longer and more involved discussion of user experience can be found at “User Experience and Experience Design” by Marc Hassenzahl. It’s billed as a chapter in an encyclopedia, but I’m not sure which one that is. If you decide to take this one on be sure to look at the comments as well.