The History & Evolution of User Experience Design

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An interview with Peter Merholz, President and Co-founder of Adaptive Path.
Show length: 25 minutes

User experience design is, at its core, a philosophy that products and services should be designed so that they are pleasurable and easy for people to use. While that might seem an obvious design approach, it’s actually not the way many designers historically thought about making things. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s that an industry came together around this particular approach to design.

I did some research to try uncover the history of this field, and, I didn’t find a lot – partly because it hasn’t been around for long. So, I had tea with Peter Merholz, who has been involved in the industry since its very early stages. We had a great conversation about what it was like when the industry started to come together and where he thinks it’s headed.

10 Responses to The History & Evolution of User Experience Design

  1. uxdesign.com says:

    Sounds look an easy introduction to user experience design for those not already much exposed to it. Don Norman is credited with coining the term, so I though your audience might like to hear him talk about it with Peter Merholz at UX Week: http://uxdesign.com/events/article/don-norman-interview-ux-video/49

  2. Holger says:

    again and again a pleasure to have tea with you Theresa!
    What I really like – is that Peter comes up with descriptions that I / you can’t hear anywhere – how we … – how one can do and understand UX and the “rat’s tail” of IxD, IA, UE, etc.

    the usual descriptions that you can read anywhere means often little to most people and that’s a problem and that has an impact in our business.

    BTW – Thx Michael for your link tip.

    en passant the ambient noise from the background at the start – Was that really tea? – … to my ears it was coffee! :-)

    looking forward for the next cup of tea

  3. Teresa Brazen says:

    @uxdesign.com: Yes, it’s absolutely supposed to be a high level conversation that, hopefully, people not exposed to the practice will grasp! Thanks for the Don Norman link — great supplement to help in our goal of general comprehension and learning.

    @Holger:
    Thanks so much! I agree — I think Peter did a good job of explaining the complexity of different disciplines coming together around one common goal (UX). And, yes, he was drinking tea…though he did make it clear that he was much more partial to coffee! lol.

  4. Al Belote says:

    Great interview. It brings out a few points I’ve not heard elsewhere about the origins of user experience…the connection to Apple, the complexity factor in software that made it essential to address UX, and the example of the air travel observation/research.

  5. Teresa Brazen says:

    Hey thanks, Al. Sorry for the belated response…was out of the country. Peter will be glad to hear your feedback, I’m sure…

  6. epos says:

    Great stuff – we need more blogs on travel etc like this USA Travel Registration

  7. admin says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

  8. DTM says:

    This was excellent, thank you. For someone just getting into the field, it really helps to hear a little about where the field came from.

  9. admin says:

    Glad to hear it – thanks.

  10. Anonymous says:

    [...] and interact with products and systems. The idea of applying design thinking to user interface is relatively new—it emerged with the internet as developers identified the need of improving  navigation through [...]

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