One of the problems with coining a term like “user experience” or its acronym counterpart “UX” is that it opens up the floodgates for other trendy experience-related acronyms to enter the web design lexicon. CX, DX, EX, HX, JX, PX, UX, (U)XD… Is all of this really necessary though? While I don’t think you need to go adding EX or JX to your vocabulary anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to educate yourself on what these X acronyms mean and how to use them to your advantage in business.
The X’s of Web Design and Marketing
The two most common experience acronyms in web design and marketing are UX and CX. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the “X” in these acronyms doesn’t always stand for “experience” nor does it always pertain to the end customer. Let’s review what each of the X acronyms means and then we’ll talk about which ones you actually need to worry about and use.
Customer Experience (CX)CX
refers to the quality of interactions a customer has with a brand, from the very first encounter to their very last. As such, customer experience is the most important of all the X’s to monitor, measure, and maintain. Think about all of the places where the CX could go off the rails:
- A broken form on the website dissuades them from trying to connect with a brand;
- A support representative fails to respond in a timely fashion, leaving the user feeling helpless;
- The customer makes a purchase every month for two years, but has noticed a degradation in quality over time.
This is why it’s so important for businesses to have a game plan from Day 1 — especially one that ensures a consistent delivery of products and services throughout the lifetime of a customer relationship. Any misstep in CX could cost a brand a customer’s business and loyalty.
Digital Transformation (DX)DX
refers to a technological evolution within a company. Although it’s not a term you commonly hear thrown around, it’s happening around us all the time. If you’ve ever made a digital shift within your own business (say, from one OS to another or from a manual process to one that’s automated), you know what far-reaching effects it can have. Your time, money, and sometimes even your clients can be impacted by the change if you don’t prepare for it in advance. Imagine what happens when it’s not just a sole business owner or freelancer who’s affected by a digital transformation.
Emotional Experience (EX)
There are two ways in which “EX” may be used in design or marketing. This is one way. Think of emotional experience as a subset of user experience. Instead of focusing on developing a clear set of steps that take a user through their journey, EX design and marketing focus on the elements that evoke strong emotions: Powerful color palettes; Nostalgic images; Messages of urgency. Any time you build something with the intent of pulling on someone’s emotions, that’s emotional experience design — and it’s a really common thing we do today, even if we don’t all go referring to it as EX.
Employee Experience (EX)
This is the second use of EX you may encounter, though it’s not very likely unless you’re working in a digital agency environment. Even then, this is the kind of term that only corporate might use. While it might not be a commonplace phrase, the concept is a good one to flesh out, whether you work in a team atmosphere or you have aspirations of hiring your own team someday. All employee experience really refers to is how team members feel about and respond to a work environment and their organization as a whole. Essentially, EX is UX for an internal organization. And by researching what employees want, collecting feedback on how they feel, and reviewing data on their productivity and job satisfaction, companies can effectively improve the employee experience — which should have a trickle-down effect to CX.
Human Experience (HX)
I’ve heard it said that HX is all about taking UX and CX to a new level. Even though they’re both meant to create a more pleasing end user experience, the belief is that there’s still too much focus on the technology instead of the humans we should be serving. That it’s only when we stop focusing on how technology can attract and convert and please more customers that we can fulfill the real purpose of a company. While honesty, transparency, and ethics are the kind of ideals every brand should strive for, it’s not always realistic to prioritize them what with how difficult it is to convince users to convert. There’s just too much information competing for their attention right now. So, while it’s nice to think about being able to market and sell a company to human beings instead of generalizing them as “users” or “customers”, that’s just not feasible for newer and smaller companies. That said, I think HX is still a worthwhile concept to keep in mind. While you might not be able to do much with it now, it can certainly be a game-changing differentiator once a brand has long been established.
Job Transformation (JX)JX
and DX go hand-in-hand. Basically, as companies adopt more and more digital solutions, and those solutions become more complex (thanks in part to AI), jobs are going to change. So, rather than hire IT specialists who can manage on-site hardware and software, businesses will be looking for AI specialists and cloud service providers who can help them make the most of their all-digital operation.
Partner Experience (PX)PX
may refer to one of two things. For this one, the partner in the experience could be a business partner, product supplier, SaaS provider, etc. Basically, any third party who you have a relationship with. As far as web design and marketing goes, PX can affect you in a number of ways. For example, if you were to manage web hosting on behalf of your clients. You notice that their site’s gone offline, so you reach out to the customer support representative from the web hosting company, but they’re either non-responsive or have no clue what the heck is going on. Who do you think your client is going to be upset with? No matter how much you try to pass the buck, you’re the one who’s set yourself up as the go-between, so it’s going to fall on you. Now, let’s say you’re a solo web designer and want to partner with a copywriter since clients keep asking for help in that area. In that case, PX could affect you in a similar fashion. If the writer were to fall short in their duties (or vice versa), not only would your relationship with them be compromised, but the relationship between you and the client would as well. Bottom line: the relationships you have with partners and suppliers plays a critical role in your success, so you do need to spend time focusing on those experiences.
Public Experience (PX)PX
, in this instance, is more likely to be used by agencies that specialize in branding and market research. That’s because this one has to do with how a brand is perceived by society. And all of the other acronyms contribute to it. For instance:
- An employee believes they were unfairly fired and puts the company on blast on Facebook. It gets picked up by a major news source and the story goes viral.
- A website is hacked the day before Black Friday, leaving thousands of users without a place to buy all of the gifts they were hoping to get on sale that holiday season.
- A company releases a new app which parents are calling for a ban on because it reinforces unhealthy stereotypes.
From the product itself to how the company engages with the public, there are many ways in which the PX may be affected. While each of the contributors — including you the web designer — have to be cognizant of how their choices and actions may affect the public image of a brand, it’s more likely the branding team will need to worry about PX.
User Experience (UX)
You’re probably already familiar with UX. This is the term we use to describe how a user (visitor) feels as they walk through a website or app. And how each step they take and each interaction they make, adds up to an overall experience. In order to “create” a user experience, designers, developers, writers, and marketers need to be able to step inside the shoes of their users and build a journey tailor-made for them. I’ll explain in more detail how that happens in the next point.
(User) Experience Design (UXD)
The subject of user experience design is a common one discussed here. Just recently, the following UXD topics have been explored:
- Unified UX
- Unexpected UX design skills
- Micro-interactions in UX
- Color impact on UX
- The dangers of dark UX
is a discipline that requires a lot of research, attention to detail, and testing. And the end result is a website or app that’s highly usable, accessible, and enjoyable. That’s because every element, step, and interaction has been carefully thought through. And not only that, the experience is constantly reevaluated, tested, and updated to continually serve the end user. As far as you’re concerned, I’d say that UX/UXD is the most important acronym for you to concern yourself with.
The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of value in accepting the underlying principles of these acronyms. However, I’m not sure we need to make “designer speak” sound any more complicated than it already is. After all, your clients don’t want to hear you talk about how DX is affecting the way we build the UX of websites. They want real speak. They want to know what exactly you’re going to do for them; not spend extra time asking you to elaborate on what all of that design jargon means. Plus, if you do get caught up in all of these “experiences”, you might not get anything done. What I’d suggest is to focus on the ones that matter: UX — even if you’re not an official UX designer by trade — is incredibly important. CX is another must, though the only CX you can fully control is your own. You’ll have to trust that the clients you work for will deliver the rest on their end. I also think DX is a good one to keep in the corner of your mind. Technological advancements aren’t going to stop anytime soon and you’re working in a field where the tools you use and the tech that affects your business are constantly changing. So, while you might not talk about “DX”, you do need to accept that it’s going to have a profound effect on how you work, how you develop processes, and what you’re able to do for clients. Like I said earlier, the underlying concepts of each of these X acronyms are valid and do hold some value for you as a web designer. As you work on growing your business — by adding more services, hiring employees, upgrading your tech — it would serve you well to keep these in mind to ensure you maintain a positive experience across the board. Featured image via Unsplash.