The Human Touch: Moving From UX to HX

Posted Jul 27, 2015 by in Blog, Technology + Devices, UX


“Don’t you resent being called a ‘consumer?’”

I am sitting in a room with about twenty other people, two hundred feet above the Pacific at the Esalen Institute. The question draws my gaze away from the Cypress tree clinging to the cliff outside the window back to the white-haired workshop leader. My indignation rises as he continues:

“Is that how we should define each other? Is that who you want to be? One who consumes? Do you want to live in a culture where the news of the day is how much we consumed in the last quarter?”

Um, NO! And I doubt you do either.

A new framework for creating digital experiences

Something clicked for me in that moment and was with me when I found myself back at work in New York and in a meeting where the term B2C (business-to-consumer) was being bandied about like a worn shoe. I wanted to jump up on the table and rant about how inadequate and inaccurate that phrase is.

Here’s my micro rant: there is no B2C software. There is no B2B application. There is only human-to-human: H2H. At the end of the day it’s about connecting humans to other humans and exchanging ideas, services, products, expertise, feelings, information, stories, art, etc.

And there are no users. There are only people. Humans who are infinitely more complex, alive, whole, passionate, and vulnerable than the word “user” can contain and who, in the final analysis, are only using a thing to realize a hope or allay a fear. UX becomes HX.

This basic understanding and intention can be applied to almost any field—from medicine, where treatment of the whole person is an emerging trend, to architecture, where ergonomic design is starting to become the leading principle.

This perspective should undergird and inform our entire process from research and strategy to design and development, through to support and continuous improvement. We have to always remind ourselves to put the whole human first and work to understand how to fit interactions into their day as seamlessly, pleasurably, and simply as possible.

We should facilitate inspiration and aspiration as much as transaction. Through these digital media, when we create experiences with this framework and intention, we will not only be more successful in achieving our KPIs but we can build longer-term relationships, fostering trust and open conversations.

We’re only human after all.