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How To Explain UX Design To Anyone v2.0

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

Some time ago, I shared my way of explaining what we UX designers do.

Since then I’ve iterated the description and now I think I have a better one, so here it is!

“UX Designers are just like architects, but of digital products.

A traditional architect meets with clients, understand their preferences, the type of use that they’re going to give to the building, make blueprints and create mock-ups to later work alongside engineers to effectively build.

We do exactly the same but for digital products and services, like apps, webpages and such.”

Let’s break it down

I discovered that in general, it’s easier to understand something new if we can relate it with something that we know.

First cars looked like carriages. Effective innovations seem to sink in things that currently exist.

That connection is what seem to allow mainstream culture to grasp new concepts.

This is the principle that I used to create the explanation.

After testing several times, I found that it works really well to offer a glimpse of what our very complex discipline is.

All feedback is welcomed! New iterations will be conducted 😉

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Chandresh Gandhi

    Analogy is good but UX is not limited to just digital products or applications.

    1. Mariano Goren

      Hi Chandresh, how’s that going?

      Thanks for your feedback. How’d you change the sentence to make it more accurate?


    2. Edward Theodore

      I have to say Chandresh, Ive used this anology for years as I have done both interior and exterior architecture and now, UX Design. I have to say this analogy is not just good it’s spot point on.

      This article wasn’t about what UX designers do, it was how about how to Explain UX to any one and in a simple way that they can possible relate to and thus understand UX

      At the same time I do agree strongly with you when you try to clarify that UX designers aren’t limited to digital products only I’m very passionate about that concept. In my talks I always try to let people be aware of the fact, that User Experience can be as simple as how far your alarm clock or phone sits away from your reach at the side of your bed in the mornings and finding a sweet spot to reaching it that happen over many adjustments as we would call it iterations.

      The Author made it simple and that’s the focus, maybe twist your head sideways (smiles) and have a another look at just that again without the other definition of what UXDs do.


  2. Todd Young

    UX’ers reach across multiple disciplines, with a focus on the end user/customer (internal and external), researching and collaborating to find the most valuable solutions for any given challenge.

    Your entire organization has to be UX focused for this to be valuable it’s a team effort, not a single entity/magic pill solution…

    1. Mariano Goren

      Thanks for adding your perspective Todd. I must say that yours is a nice way to explain UX, and I did used something like it in the past.

      Problem appeared when I tried to explain what we do in a bar or over a dinner. I tried to overcome it with a more simple explanation that has roots in what people actually knows.


      1. Edward Theodore

        Hi Mariano,

        Not trying to take your side here but I had to agree once I read your short article that you are spot on. UXers and Architects work the very same way.

        That’s how I explain UX to lots of steakholders CEOs and the common man or woman and they always say, Oh ok I get it. At least I know, it’s way more guaranteed to work 8 out of 10 times, it’s a super relatable anaology.

        Thanks for that.

      2. Edward Theodore

        Also I can see why Chandresh above commented the way he did. I do think that maybe it’s time for the industry to stop pigeon holding UX designers to just digital design.

        UX design can be geared towards any product even if I’m a UX designer who designs the user experiences around water bottles for athletes or rucksacks (bag Packs) for mountain climbers.

        See my point? Great article anyway.


        1. Mariano Goren

          Thanks a lot for your comments Ed.

          I agree with you! I think that is a matter of time and maturation of our discipline, which is still young.

          Guess that once UXers start to have more “wins” in other fields, we’re gonna see more companies worried about perfecting ALL touchpoints & experiences.

  3. Mes

    I apologise if this comes harsh, but your analogy shows a lack of understanding of both the architecture process and the UX process. The most telling sign of this is your failure to use the word “user” in your entire analogy about the USER Experience Process. Your explanation is not user-centric, and neither is the process it implies—which means it is not a user experience process.

    What you described sounds much more in line with what I used to do as a graphic designer who cared little about the user, and not at all what I do as a user experience designer. This analogy is therefore not only flawed, but it is outright misleading. Again, I’m sorry if this comes off harsh, I was just bewildered by this “explanation.”

    1. Mariano Goren

      Hey Mes, thanks for your comment.

      I’m glad that you don’t agree.

      Criticism without proposing alternatives is quite frustrating.

      Can you share how you explain the discipline?

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