User Experience — Think Holistic or Get Lost

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A portrait of a woman smiling. Used at Geekswipe to convey a positive response to a product experience.

Two years ago, if you had asked me what UX is all about, I’d have told you with a monocle and a cup of tea that UX is generally an amalgamation of visual and instructional design to provide an empathetic experience for a user when they interact with the product on a digital medium.

But today, I had a sour experience while registering my book with the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Department for an ISBN that reminded me what the core concept of UX is. So here I am, curbing my exasperation (yes, really!) and veil my rant as a Geekswipe edition.

User experience is ambiguous

User interaction is a very high-level psychological concept and cannot be encompassed with a bunch of technical specs—if it were only that easy.

Interaction, simply put, encompasses every node where the user exchanges information with the organisation and vice versa. Therefore, experiences span across these nodes too.

The misconception here is that user experience is confined to a canopy of human-computer interaction alone. But in fact, human experience is complicated and shared throughout their journey with the organisation.

The Indian government and user experience

Had a chuckle reading the title? If you did, you know what I am talking about!

When it comes to the National Informatics Centre’s projects for the Indian Government, it’s a chain of depressing nightmares. The instructional design is a gory mess and the visual design of the web portals are non-existent. Though their architecture and engineering warrant a commendation, it all fails when it meets the criminally negligent and outdated tech deployed at user-facing part.

Even if you forgive their incompetencies and think that your painful experience would come to an end once you somehow win all the technical battles and hit the submit button, you will eventually lose the war like me.

I managed to register at the isbn.co.in portal after seven attempts, and was successfully able to submit the form after two days.

At the time of this writing, two months is the time an applicant has to wait for an ISBN to be issued in India. I waited! Three months! And during the time, I didn’t receive any status update or response to my inquiries for one. Not even an acknowledgement.

Tired of this limbo, I then called their office. Here is the kicker! The employees who attended the phones at the ISBN agency, all employed by the Central Government of India, didn’t really appreciate the fact that half of India doesn’t speak Hindi. I got hung up several times.

I’ll leave you to deduce my overall experience here.

Think holistic or get lost

The point here is, UX is what defines your company and only by extension the products of the company. It’s not just technical. It’s not just business. It’s psychological and philosophical. It’s alive. It evolves. It’s the living spec of the collective vision. In other words, UX is everything! It’s holistic.

If you don’t think about UX from a high-level perspective, it means you don’t care about your users. Think holistic or get lost in the wild.

This post was first published on December 10, 2015.

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Karthikeyan KC

Aeronautical engineer, dev, science fiction author, gamer, and an explorer. I am the creator of Geekswipe. I love writing about physics, aerospace, astronomy, and python. I created Swyde. Currently working on Arclind Mindspace.

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