User experience design we all heard it is mostly in the development field. If you think UX design or user experience design is a modern concept, well it is not. But the term first appears in 1993. Don Norman who worked as a cognitive psychologist and designer at Apple Computer? The term isn’t old as the UX field.

Today I’m sharing the history of the UX. Keep reading if you are new to the UX design field or you wish to start your career as a UX designer. And you already an experienced professional this might help you think differently. Let’s explore UX and its origin.

Road map of UX design history

4000 BC: Feng Shui and the importance of space

The very first presence of UX runs back to the 4th millennium BC. The ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui refers to the special arrangement of objects about the flow of energy. Feng Shui is a Chinese art the word meaning is “wind-water,” and in Chinese culture wind and water symbolize good luck and good health. Practically it all about planning and placing objects in the most optimal, melodious, or user-friendly way. And when arranging they consider concerns everything from layout and framework to materials and colors.

The Feng Shui Living

It is hard to believe an ancient Chinese philosophy has to do with something UX design. But think about it this way. If you are an interior designer you think about how would increase the number of good vibes in the space you design. It is the same principle an ancient Chinese philosophy represents. And even now if you designing a mobile app, web, or software the team puts a lot of effort to make it user-friendly.

500 BC: The Ancient Greeks and ergonomics

What is ergonomic? Ergonomics also refer as the ‘human factor'. Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Let’s find out what it has to do with Greeks.

In Ancient Greece about the 5th century BC, Greek civilization arranges their workplace and working tools based on ergonomic principles. Is it something to do with UX? Well yes, there is solid evidence written by Hippocrates explaining ergonomic principles. And how the surgeon’s place should arrange with all the surgeon's tools set up. And he advises that it “must be positioned in such a way as to not obstruct the surgeon, and also be within easy reach when required” this is more sound like User experience design right?

The early 1900s: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the quest for workplace efficiency

Fast forward a few thousand years and meet a mechanical engineer of the pioneer of Taylorism named Frederick Winslow Taylor was a mission to make human labor more efficient in their work. He did large-scale research about workers and their interaction with the tools. And Taylor wrote, “The principle of scientific management” in calming the systematic management is the solution for labors inefficiency and as well as for other workers. He focused on the relationship between humans and their tools. And as we know in UX design principles Usability first is a key point.

Frederick Winslow Taylor 

1940s: Toyota and the value of human input

Toyota developed its famous human-centered production system in the 1940s. They introduced to keep the workplace efficiency.

The Toyota Production System depended on regard for individuals, and much consideration was paid to establishing the ideal workplace, and similarly, as significant, human info was considered pivotal and was effectively energized. Like in usability testing, the designer can change the direction of the process, in the Toyota factory, workers able to stop the production process (assembly line) if they had feedback or suggestions to improve the process. This plays the most important part of UX history.

assembly line of Toyota factory 

1955: Henry Dreyfuss and the art of designing for people

Henry Dreyfuss, an American industrial engineer is another key figure of UX design.  For improving usability of most iconic consumer productsincluding the Hoover vacuum cleaner and the tabletop telephone he was rewarded.

In 1955, Dreyfuss’ wrote; designing for People,’ where he explains UX design in a nutshell: “When the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the [designer] has failed. On the other hand, if people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient — or just happier — by contact with the product, then the designer has succeeded.”

Henry Dreyfuss

1966: Walt Disney. Could he be the first UX designer?

Walt Disney was obsessed with creating magical, immersive, near-perfect user experiences, and the way he set about building Disney World was a true stroke of UX genius. And he guided his engineer team with these lines “Know your audience, wear your guest’s shoes, communicate with color, shape, form, texture, and so on”

Walt Disney & Disney Land 

Disney talks about his vision of UX that would become Walt Disney World in 1966. He visualizes a place to be “an experimental prototype that is always in the state of becoming, a place where the latest technology can be used to improve the lives of people.” And whether Walt Disney knows or not this is pure UX design.

The 1970s: Xerox, Apple, and the PC era

1970 known as the era of personal computers. And in this time psychologists and engineers focus on user experience. Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) introduces the most influential development of user experience design.

Apple’s company’s first mass-market PC which featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse was released in 1984 and since then they were true pathfinders of UX.

The Evolution of UX

1995: Donald Norman gives UX Design a name

In the early 90s user experience design become popular but anyone didn’t use the term” User Experience Design” Donald Norman, joined Apple company as a cognitive scientist and he needed a term that would explain everything in UX. As he states: “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with a system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. And he became the first person with the UX I job title.

Donald Norman

Today UX design

Today UX design plays a very important role in development. And sometimes it cost more than development, but it depends on the type of product. Mostly in marketing UX provides positive experiences that keep users loyal to the product or brand. And most of the time many companies tend to ask their users about their experience when using the product. And the feedback directly affects the next version of development and made more improvements to the product.

Today principles of UX design

There are no defined principles of user experience design but there are well-known points that cannot ignore by the UX designers.

  • Meet the users’ needs
  • Know where you are in the design process
  • Have a clear hierarchy
  • Keep it consistent
  • Understand accessibility
  • Context is key
  • Usability first
  • Less is more
  • Use simple language
  • Typography is powerful
  • Feedback matters
  • Confirm before you commit
  • The user is in control
  • Design with personality
  • Visual grammar
  • Narrative design