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Product v Engineering v Industrial Design = UI or UX Design

When I was training and learning about engineering, design and how to channel the creative muse, there was no doubt who did what.

Engineers worked out why the industrial designers couldn’t make their fancy looking creations and product designers tried to fit between the two with a dangerous mix of practical maths and some coloured pencils. User experiences (UX) came down to what colour to specify the glowing bulb in the ‘Press this button to Start’ switch.

But as computer languages and technology began to be integrated into products, firstly as invisible firmware residing within the ‘silicone chips’ that Tomorrow’s World talked about, to the software that ran the Simon game we all loved in the early eighties, it began to dawn on designers that we were no longer limited to the knobs and switches that engineers said we had to use.

Being able to decide which programmable switch was to do what in a TV remote enabled the canny designer to really improve the usability and intuitiveness of changing channels.

Better still, medical devices, cars and aircraft to a greater and lesser degree could reflect both their user’s and creator’s desires.

And it reached it’s zenith with the introduction of the Apple iPhone. Suddenly the whole phone was one reprogrammable, graphically extraordinary computer that was so versatile that it could navigate to work, pay bills and even take calls.

The UX designer was in the driving seat. As the whole point of owning these sort of products was enjoying and using the screen the electronics, industrial design and even to some extent the whole experience was determined by the quality of the user experience.

Get it right and the seamless and immersive experience makes for an almost magical combination.

Get it wrong and every user instinctively knows it’s a lemon.

So in our world of fitness and health what difference does it make? All I can say is try out one of our products and let us know how we’re doing.

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