1. …user interface design

It’s not uncommon to confuse “user experience” with “user interface” – after all it’s a big part of what users interact with while experiencing digital products and services. But the UI is just one piece of the puzzle.

2. …a step in the process

It is the process. In order to create a great experience for your users, not just design something that we’d like to use, we need to keep listening and iterating. It doesn’t have to be a rigid process, but it does need to exist.

3. …about technology

User experience isn’t even about technology, says Mario Bourque, manager of information architecture and content management at Trapeze Group. “It’s about how we live. It’s about everything we do; it surrounds us.”

4. …just about usability

“People often think that [UX design] is a way to make products that suck into products that don’t suck by dedicating resources to the product’s design,” says Chris Fahey, founding partner and principal of Behavior. Making stuff easy and intuitive is far from our only goal.

5. …just about the user

As user experience designers we have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the business goals, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand.

6. …expensive

Every project requires a custom-tailored approach based on the business’s available resources, capabilities, timeline, and budget, and a whole slew of real-world constraints. But that doesn’t always mean that it needs to be costly or take forever.

7. …easy

Just because we know how to conduct some cool and useful activities and you know your business really well doesn’t mean that this whole process is a breeze. And cutting corners on some important steps is a recipe for disaster.

8. …the role of one person or department

“User experience isn’t just the responsibility of a department or a person,” says Livia Labate, principal of information architecture and user experience at Comcast Interactive Media. “That compartmentalist view of UX is evidence that it is not part of the organizational culture and hints to teams not having a common goal or vision for the experience they should deliver collectively.”

9. …a single discipline

The truth is that we’re all still very new at this. Louis Rosenfeld, publisher at Rosenfeld Media, publishing books on user experience design, and co-author of the seminal 2002 book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web argues that user experience may not yet even be a discipline. “It may not even be a community just yet,” he asserts. “At best, it’s a common awareness, a thread that ties together people from different disciplines who care about good design, and who realize that today’s increasingly complex design challenges require the synthesis of different varieties of design expertise.”

10. …a choice

For those of you who think you don’t really need a user experience designer, keep this in mind: “Nobody wants to believe that what they are offering is of poor-quality or deficient,” says Kaleem Khan, an independent UX consultant, “because nobody sets out to achieve a bad design as a goal. It’s always a risk. Bad designs and bad experiences happen.”