UX – a step in or before Customer Experience

User experience (UX) is often associated with customer experience (CX). The “X’s” agree, so what’s the problem? In both cases, roles combine a huge amount of responsibilities. From research, through analysis, strategy, marketing, to graphic design, web development, and project management. Judging by the job postings for junior positions, one should assume that like unicorns, people with few years of such broad experience exist.

A floating unicorn on a swimming pool. Metaphor for high expectations for user experience (UX) jobs.

User experience is an integral part of customer experience, as well as the key to consistency. The main difference lies between the user and the customer. This does not change the fact that the customer is also a user! When we talk about the customer, we will mean the person who is ultimately purchasing goods or services. When we speak about a user, we mean the person using a particular product or service.

It is often the case that the customer checks the product on a website at a certain stage of their journey. Then, of course, they combine these two roles – the customer and the user. For example, for craftsmen, a person considering or making a purchase is a customer. Such a customer while on the website will also be a user (of the particular website). Thinking about UX from a wider perspective, the customer will also become a user of e.g. purchased jewellery. To make it easier, many UX designers use these terms interchangeably. After all, users are their clients. 😉

UX – definition

UX originates from the 1970s and was initially part of ergonomics field dealing with human-computer interaction (HCI). The very term “user experience” was created in 1988 by Donald Norman. He is a professor of cognitive psychology, computer science, HCI and applied design specialist as well as former Apple vice president. The term “user experience” replaced “user-oriented system design”. Ufff! Thanks, Don!

UX is the sum of the user’s experiences and emotions resulting from different solutions. It is a study of user needs, behaviour and reactions. The study can be conducted through surveys, focus groups and testing. It is product design (no longer just IT) and technology adoption to how people think. It is a combination of psychology and engineering. Therefore, in the designer community, the same activities can be described as “user experience”, “information architecture” or “interaction design”.

If you’re looking for a formal definition, this is how Gartner describes UX:

User experience (UX) is the sum of the effects caused by a person using a digital solution. UX efforts concentrate on the experience people have when interacting with a specific product or solution.


Also, spare a moment to listen to Donald Norman explaining user experience:

His approach is very holistic, sounds almost like customer experience. It only highlights how much in common there is between CX and UX. Most importantly none of them is not only about fulfilling the needs. It is also offering new services, adding functionality. And, as in the case of customer experience, it requires readiness for an individual approach and business goals awareness.

UX vs CX

From the first article, you will know that customer experience (CX) is the sum of impressions coming from all points of contact between the customer and the brand. User experience is one of such points of contact. For example when a client is using a website.

So, user experience is an integral part of the customer experience. Both disciplines have a lot in common, e.g. creating personas or empathy maps. The most important thing is that UX can act before CX! And this is what makes the user experience process so important.

This is explained in an accessible and accurate way in the recording below.

Customer Experience Design (CED/CXD)

Between User Experience and Customer Experience, there’s one more term to be introduced: Customer Experience Desing. It is also used interchangeably with User Experience Design (UED/UXD). This is because both CED and UED emphasize experience while interacting with a product or service.

CED is a product and service design practice emphasizing quality and user experience (for online and offline). The easiest way is to reduce both concepts to experience design (XD) – a strategy that aims to maintain customer engagement through interaction. In this sense, everything we create – from packaging and leaflets to the website and customer service – is an experience. As a consequence XD realizes brand promise and creates the image.

UX vs UI

UI (user interface) is a form and visual realization of expectations, e.g. the arrangement of letters on the keyboard. The person in charge of the UI will implement in detail the assumptions resulting from UX research and analysis. They will take care of the graphic and aesthetics side of a given project, and in case of websites and applications – cooperation with developers.

For example, imagine a lift in an office building. You want to go to the 10th floor. The layout of buttons on the panel inside the elevator is UI, User Interface. The music in the elevator, phone range (or lack of it) make up the UX. You are heading to a law firm. Cleanliness at the entrance, service at the reception desk and conversation with a lawyer will contribute to your overall customer experience and the image of the company.

Utility and functionality

While exploring UI there are two main concepts:

  • Utility – an attribute that determines whether the system responds to users’ needs (features).
  • Usability – a quality attribute that determines whether the system is:
    • easy to learn and remember,
    • efficient and pleasant to use,
    • “error resistant” (how easy is to recover from an error).

These two factors determine whether a solution is useful. NN Group shares a very cool equation:

Useful = usability + utility

Now think about Apple products – their usability and functionality ultimately translates into brand popularity.

Apple computer in a minimalist surrounding - an example of a great user experience (UX).

UX – what next

User experience affects the overall perception of the customer journey. So imagine an online shop without pictures. To check the price, you have to open every product in a new tab. You are willing to make the purchase, so you are looking for “Buy” or “Add to Cart” buttons. Instead, they are in the form of hyperlinks, somewhere in the middle of the description. Are you still on the website or have you left already?

This is an example of how a bad website design and lack of understanding of users’ needs can affect a brand image. However, it’s a result of users spending more time on other websites than ours and their strong habits. Below you’ll find some tips and tricks. In this case, conventional solutions are recommended. 😉

Tips & tricks

  1. Most importantly, be empathic! UX, just like CX, requires understanding. Not everyone makes logical decisions. Besides conducting surveys and planning strategies, try to talk to your audience for a better understanding of their needs. Otherwise, you may fall into the trap of “I know better”.
  2. Check the menu of your website:
    • Is it clear and intuitive? It is recommended to have 5 to 7 headings.
    • If you write in more than one language, is the option to change it easy and clear?
  3. Remember about online security. Does your website have a valid SSL certificate?
  4. How about the loading speed of your website? With a loading time of more than 5 seconds, users tend to leave the site. You can check the speed on Google Page Speed Insights. For the mobile version, you can use Test My Site by Google.
  5. If you run an online shop, check if:
    • the user can use previously entered data, or do they have to re-enter it every time?
    • the photos of your products are encouraging (e.g. well lit) and the descriptions are easy to understand?

Remember, however, that Rome was not built in one day! If you are at the beginning of developing your brand, it is normal that your website may have a more basic look and feel. I develop mine all the time, gather feedback, improve. Errors may appear. But the most important thing is a willingness to learn and improve. Step by step you will make changes. As time goes by you know more and more, you gain new skills. Have you ever seen an eight-year-old girl with a high school diploma? Well, give yourself time, and at the same time act!

Let me know your thoughts about the User Experience. You can leave a comment below, in social media or just send me a message. I will also be very happy if you share this post with someone who is looking to gain new knowledge.

Thank you for your time to read this post! 😊

Sharing is caring <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top