Coffee cup

Introduction

Every day, people like you and me experience the world. We wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and try to avoid stepping on the cat. Our day has just begun. Thousands of experiences await us, ranging from the trivial to the time-consuming: we peek at our phones and note our busy schedules, or we close our eyes and imagine a long, relaxing vacation under the sun. Some experiences are good. Some are bad. Most are somewhere in between. Yet, despite the many experiences we have, we are often unprepared to design new ones.

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Green liquid

User Experience is Unavoidable

Palmolive released a series of TV commercials in 1981 featuring Madge, a spry and chatty manicurist. Each commercial’s concept was simple: a housewife would visit a nail salon, inexplicably stick her hand into a small saucer full of green goo, then be told by Madge that the green goo was Palmolive dishwashing detergent. Surprise! By today’s standards, the commercials were certainly gender-biased, if not borderline sociopathic, as Madge seemed to take great pleasure in telling unsuspecting housewives her trademark phrase: “You’re soaking in it!” Coined by the advertising firm Ted Bates Company, the TV campaign reached legendary status by running continuously for nearly three decades. The campaign showed the power of a catchphrase and demonstrated a fundamental truth: we often do not realize our current circumstance until someone points it out to us.

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Xoloitzcuintli

You Have to Do the Work

From the rural towns of Mexico to the hillside villages of Honduras lives the Xoloitzcuintli. This unusual breed of dog traces its lineage farther back than the Aztec Empire. Although rare, you can still find the Xolo today. The American Kennel club estimates their numbers to be nearly 30,000 worldwide: a mere whimper compared to the deafening howl of millions of Labrador Retrievers. With its hairless coat, huge ears, and occasional Mohawk, the Xolo is a frequent contestant in ugliest dog competitions. Despite these momentary humiliations, the breed is revered for its gentle personality and somewhat surprising mythology: it heals, as well as heels. And in this way, it shares a similarity with UX.

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Grapes

The User Is on a Journey

Each year, Pauillac, a village nestled within the Médoc region of France, hosts a marathon. The Marathon du Médoc weaves through 44 kilometers of bucolic Bordeaux countryside. Points along its route include the iconic vineyards of Château Lafite Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, and many others. Green, combed hillsides of grape vines meet revival architecture capped in spires and surrounded by manicured gardens. Race day begins with a fashion show and ends with a fireworks display. Festivities throughout the morning and afternoon entertain onlookers, but each pales in comparison to the main event. If you run this marathon, you will have an unforgettable experience. If you study this marathon, you will learn a lot about user experience design.

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Ship

You Are Not the User

The Yangtze River stretches nearly 4000 miles across central and eastern China, feeding from glacial and wetland tributaries as it weaves through the Qinghai–Tibet plateau, passing over the ghostly, submerged towns of the Three Gorges Dam, and emptying into the East China Sea. The river provides a home to many residents, including a remarkable fish called the torafugu. It swims through both the Yangtze’s lowland waters and your software projects.

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Egypt

Speak the User’s Language

In 1799, a young French lieutenant named Pierre-François-Xavier Bouchard made one of the greatest discoveries of all time, only to lose it two years later to the British. His discovery was neither golden nor bejeweled. However, it has mesmerized kings and scholars, generals and diplomats, readers and writers, for centuries. It is also a fine example of user experience design.

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Panda

Reciprocity

Years before the American President Richard Nixon stretched out his arms to form his famous V-sign, he was wrapping them around a pair of Chinese giant pandas named Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing. The two bears likely did not realize they were a part of a much larger embrace between two distant countries, brought together by international diplomacy and the power of reciprocation: a concept that spans borders, as well as every facet of user experience design.

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Old TV

Demographic Personas

With its feathered haircuts, tight-fitting pant suits, and abundant chest hair, the long-running game show, The Dating Game, filled American TV screens and living rooms with bawdy singles and hopeless romantics for over three decades. It ran from 1965 to 2000. It started in the Age of Aquarius and ended in the Internet Age, thereby amounting to the longest-running, most-viewed study on dating habits, people and personas.

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