CX is UX, over time

I get asked to define these terms frequently enough, that it makes sense to come up with my definitions to refer back to.

User interface, user experience, customer experience, service design - they’re all pretty close together and they all overlap. Let’s define all four with analogies…

User Interface (UI): Picture your favourite video game. The way you interact with the game - the buttons you press on your controller, the menus you navigate, the commands you input - that’s the user interface. It’s the means by which you interact with software or a digital device. It’s the combination of screens, controls (like buttons), icons, and the layout that you use when interacting with a digital product.

User Experience (UX): User experience is how you feel when you’re using that video game. Is it intuitive? Do you get frustrated trying to figure out how to progress, or is it a smooth, enjoyable process? UX is all about the emotions and attitudes a user has when interacting with a system. It’s not just about usability, but also about fun, efficiency, and satisfaction in the interaction.

Customer Experience (CX): Imagine you’re shopping online for a new pair of headphones. Customer experience encompasses every aspect of your interaction with the company selling you the headphones. It includes how easy it is to navigate the website (or the real-world store), the communication from the company about your order, how quickly the product is delivered, and how the product meets your expectations. It’s a holistic view of a customer’s end-to-end journey with a company and its products or services. CX is UX, over time.

Service Design: Service design is like planning a big party. You have to think about who’s coming, what they’ll enjoy, the flow of the evening, and how to make sure everyone has a great time. It’s a process that ensures services are designed with a focus on the user’s experience. It involves planning and organizing a service’s components (like people, infrastructure, communication, and material components) to improve its quality, interaction between service provider and customers, and the customer’s experience.