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User Experience Definition & Meaning

User experience describes a user's interaction with products, systems and services and includes usability, design, navigation, and impression. User experience is a hotly debated term and is expanding due to changes in services that companies offer. But generally speaking, it involves how easy a website, application, or service is to use; how the interface is designed and how users navigate through its features; and how users feel based on their interaction with its technology, representatives, and products.

Researchers now acknowledge how important a user's emotions are in developing their experience. Though that's not something a company can fully control, it is something they can influence. Customer service, exceptional services, well-crafted web design, and data analysis all play a role in curating user experience. To track user experience, companies use email surveys, purchase follow-ups, product reviews, social media, and advanced data analytics, to name a few. By analyzing user experience, businesses can continue to improve and expand their offerings.

User experience and ambient computing

The definition of user experience used to be relatively simple (a user had an interaction or made a purchase with a company and went on their way) but it's become much more encompassing, partly because marketing now bombards customers constantly but also because business technology is intelligent. Ubiquitous and ambient computing expand user experience to every aspect of daily life. Rather than applying only to online sessions or transactions, user experience becomes simply life experience: intelligent computing permeates daily activities. Applications smoothly integrate to help people work, schedule appointments, listen to music, track their fitness, lock their house, and connect devices to their vehicle. That integration means that users are constantly experiencing the business, even if they don't think of it that way.

Even for specific businesses and websites, user experience can now extend to multiple platforms: if a user recently searched through a boutique's website, for example, the business can send reminder messages to another device connected to that user's network, remembering what they viewed. As basic as this seems, it's just one small aspect of user experience. No longer is user experience simply a combination of web design, good content, and sufficient usability; it's everyday background experience. Eventually, people may barely think about user experience because they expect it to be instant and intelligent.

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