Every (design) experience, one (design) experience

Designing for any interactive medium is like writing a story. You choose your characters (target audience), try to describe them the best you can (personas), then imagine them doing many things around your product/service (user journeys), in many different orders and flows, living the product one task at a time.

That’s most probably why it is called “User Experience Design”. I agree with the “user experience” part as there are users to whom experiences happen, but the “design” bit might show as pretentious. If “designing” is taken as “defining”, some might argue one cannot design (ergo “define”) an experience, as each and every visitor will surely have a different one; their perceptions, mental models and inputs being different and therefore results, outputs and recollections equally so, in fact creating a unique, highly personal “experience” for each individual, and surely not necessarily the one the designers envisioned.

Still, you can “design an experience”. You just won’t priorly know which one you’re designing, or if people will get to live the experience you envisioned. But certainly you can design an experience as a coherent process that concatenates different steps/screens into discernible flows, so that users can find them, follow them, traverse them and hopefully end up achieving their tasks and goals.

Yes, you can design an experience as much as a writer can write a story. It will never be the same story for each reader, so true. But they all can share the starting, the episodes, the characters, the ending, and somehow then bits of that experience. Every single reader will have a story of their own. They will also have some thread that will unite their individual stories into one main path.

The biggest challenge for User Experience Designers is to go beyond a series of screens concatenated by a series of well-placed buttons, and make sure our products and services propose a trail, a path for the user/customer to achieve their goals and fulfill their tasks.

You could call it “Task Achievement Design”, or “Goal Fulfilling Design”, or “Journey Design”. I guess many call it “User Experience Design”. It is beyond the name and part of the role to do good design for those users to have their own great experiences, every one of them.