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What is User Experience?
The term User Experience was brought to wider knowledge by Donald Norman in the mid-1990s. He never intended the term "user experience" to be applied only to the affective aspects of usage. A review of his earlier work suggests that the term "user experience" was used to signal a shift to include affective factors, along with the pre-requisite behavioral concerns, Donald wanted to signal the shift away from usability engineering to a much richer scope of user experience, where users' feelings, motivations, and values are given as much, if not more, attention than efficiency, effectiveness and basic subjective satisfaction.
It was also important to combine the interests of different stakeholders: marketing, branding, visual design, and usability- usability people needed to take marketing, branding, and aesthetic needs into account when designing websites.
Norman had a great insight but the term ‘User Experience’ fails to communicate this insight with others - When people hear ‘User experience’ they imaging entertainment rather than a holistic approach to design. That is why this term needs to be revisited. After years explaining this function to clients and teams I realised the more correct term is Digital Architect and the term for the work is Digital Architecture.
Architects Have Foresight:
Architects in the real world have Foresight.
Foresight is a prerequisite as designing buildings is a very complex and demanding undertaking. Any design concept must at a very early stage in its generation take into account a great number of issues and variables which include qualities of space(s), the end-use and life-cycle of how people live in them and feel in them. Selection of appropriate materials and technology must be considered, tested and reviewed at an early stage in the design to ensure there are no setbacks (such as higher-than-expected costs) which may occur later.
The architect is always culture aware, taking into account the presence of cultural and historical resonance and many times will open dialog with the frontier of cultural change.
he has a deep insight into what the beliefs, values, emotions and cultural needs of the people he is building for.
Imaginative yet pragmatic
The architect’s design proposal is generally expected to be both imaginative and pragmatic. Depending on the place, time, finance, culture, and available crafts and technology in which the design takes place, the precise extent and nature of these expectations will vary. In real life, the architect participates in developing the requirements the client wants in the building. Throughout the project, the architect coordinates a design team - Structural, Mechanical, and other specialists to realise the planned project.
Filling the Gaps:
Architects rely on their experience to foresee the needs to project and plan ahead.
Often the full brief is not entirely clear at the beginning and the architect may rework the very terms of the brief bringing in more depth and resolution into the requirements to ensure they are feasible.
The Digital Architect
hese same skills apply to Digital Design - A Digital Architect combines the interests of different stakeholders: Marketing, Branding, Visual Design, and Usability, he has a deep understanding of technology and feasibility.
The Digital Architect is imaginative and pragmatic. He finds the best solutions within the budget, time, team abilities. His work requires foresight to see the full cycle of the project and the users that will experience it.
The Digital Architect is involved in the full lifecycle of the project. His ability to balance Business Goals, Technical Feasibility, Creative Design and the needs of the Users, allows him to be an aggregator, facilitator, and coordinator for the construction of digital projects. He functions as the bridge between what can be imagined and what can be done.
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