A colleague of mine posed a question recently (summarized); "What does UX mean to you?".
I thought about it, inside and outside of tech, for a bit, then posted my response. It was a brief response, but generally covered where I intended to go.
Because most of us are so embedded in tech, most of us 'go there'. But taking the 1000' view, user experience deals with the cognitive process, behaviors, goals, and observation of a person and what they are trying to achieve, in any situation/engagement.
We employ scientific method daily as we observe the psychological and physiological aspects of a 'user'. We consider tried and true expectations and behavior patterns, and assess current viability of those patterns, validating that previous patterns are still viable. We balance expectations with the reality/viability of outcome. We compare the cognitive with the behavioral and verbal, to ensure there we really understand the situation, knowing that there can be dissonance between the 3 variables, which reveals new patterns we need to address going forward. We balance expectation while uncovering new and gentle methods of guiding user accomplishment and success as we slowly morph the experiences to new and 'delightful' journeys of discovery.
Our UX reach goes far beyond software/hardware. Interior/facilities & city planning Designers and Architects are great examples, and often overlooked as UX. Think about it, most of us design for a 2d flat device that people look at for x hours a day. The other expertise areas design the environments we live in and move through, daily. Their designs actually affect the way we think and behave, in a visceral and tactile way. In a general sense, we design for sight, sound, and touch (keyboards, mice, tablets, gestures, haptic), in a confined/defined space. These people design the spaces we exist in.
One could almost take the cognitive leap that there is, indeed a sixth sense; perception. Perception not only takes into account the 5 hard senses, but also the cognitive function, as subjective as it is elusive, and changeable on a dime. Perception is born out of the experience, making perception the sum total 'experience'. This is always a moving target, and any change allows for perception to change. The real balancing act is to attain movement, growth, evolution, without negatively affecting perception.
I will likely add to this in the future.
Non-sequitur: “I’m the Dude, so that’s what you call me. That or, uh His Dudeness, or uh Duder, or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.” — The Dude