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UX design is a new field that is gaining traction, particularly in the digital arena, as organizations recognize that the user experience of their websites and apps is part of their branding identity and can influence conversions. Is the term “user experience design” accurate?

Abigail Posner, a Harvard-educated cultural anthropologist, Google executive, and public speaker, contributes to our online UX Design course, UX Design Foundations. She adopts an anthropological, human-centered approach, reminding us to consider who we’re designing for.

Her top recommendation for creating a successful user experience? For starters, stop using the phrase “user”! Remember that you can learn more about UX Design Foundations from Posner and other professionals. Make certain that you

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Posner dislikes the phrase “user experience,” while working in the field. in place of the word ‘user’ The director of Creative Works at Google favors the term “human,” which, after all, is what the user is, unless you’re developing a product for bots. “Language is culture,” she continues, citing anthropology 101. “Once you modify the language, you realize how significant a word can be, thus I like to say the human being who uses this technology.”

Posner maintains that this is about more than semantics. She claims that the problem with the term “user” is that it focuses on a single, limited part of a person’s behavior: the instant they contact with a product.

“When we use the word ‘user,’ it implies only when that person is using that device; the device is the story; the user is just the person who uses it, so if we take away that word and think about the human being, the kind of research that we would use would be much broader, much deeper, and thus really allow us to understand the human being who uses that technology or software.”

Posner’s approach to human-centered UX design begins with understanding the role that the product will play for the individual who will use it. “When I think about making something, whether it’s a piece of technology or a piece of furniture, I constantly ask what role it’s going to play in culture and what it is that human beings really need from it,” she adds.

Her training as an anthropology may explain why she approaches things differently than a designer. As an example, she compares how an anthropology, an engineer, and an interior designer would approach designing a table. “We all have the same brief,” she explains, “but we all approach it differently.”


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