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How To Explain UX Design To Anyone

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Note: I’ve updated this definition, you can find it here: How To Explain UX Design To Anyone v2.0

One common thing that I heard from my mentees is that they’re having problems to explain UX to people that really don’t know about the subject.

It seems that the concept sounds so obvious that anyone has their own point of view pretty well established, but built based on prejudice.

In this article I’ll share my own way to help them understand the real value of our discipline.


The goal: a few words to explain a lot

I’ve perfected the script to work both for personal and professional conversations —how many times you had problems trying to explain what you study/do to someone in a party?

“User Experience Designers use psychology to understand users of a system and models, to understand the business. Then, we create a bridge between them using technology.”


Short & sweet!

I always try to deliver in a very graphic way, using a lot of gestures to highlight that there are two groups of people that we are in contact with, and that our goal is to engineer something to connect their interests.


Let’s break it down:

“User Experience Designers use psychology to understand the users of a system…”


Here I start by defining that we are designers that learn in a scientific way about what the users need from a particular system or service.

Having been a psychology school student, I know that we are not ‘strictly’ using it, but is a good way to convey the deep human focus of the discipline.

I alternatively use ‘social sciences’ —which sounds more accurate to me, but adds some complexity for the casual listener.


“…and models, to understand the business.”


Here again, is key our scientific focus to understand through models.

I usually say ‘business’ because it evokes entrepreneurship, but I often end up saying ‘organizations’ when speaking to a more savvy audience.


“Then, we create a bridge between them using technology…”


Here is when I make sense of the innovative perspective of our job. I use the bridge as an image of something that has to be built to serve the purposes that the interested groups have.

And, even ‘technology’ is a very broad term, the combination with ‘design’ gets the job done explaining the ‘app/webpage’ crafting part.

As always, this is my particular model and I’m constantly iterating to improve it. Let me know your thoughts on it!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Michael

    ‘We use psychology…’. A little pretentious. . Indeed as you state, we are not strictly using it. Psychologists/psychiatrists would have a guffaw at that!

    1. Mariano Goren

      Hi Michael, thanks for your contribution. I’ve been a student of Psychology school and I can say that UXers use a lot of tools taken from cognitive psychology, so I think I can defend this point of view 😉

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