What is Human Experience (HX) Design?

Theresa Sintetos
Thursday, August 24, 2023

Have you ever heard the terms Human Experience or Human-Centered Design? These terms reflect the evolution of digital design from just User Experience design to a broader view, enabling practitioners to focus on the holistic journey, emotions, and perceptions of humans who drive our products.

Human Experience (HX) describes a person's collective experience with a product, service, or organization across touchpoints.

After years of being dominated by User Experience (UX) Design, the terms Human Experience and Human Centered Design are becoming more prevalent in the digital design industry. So why is there now a focus on “Human Experience”? Aren’t users…well…human?  

Human Experience (HX) describes a person's collective experience with a product, service, or organization across touchpoints, whether as a customer, employee, patient, or citizen.  HX employs human-centered design principles in creating digital products and services to meet the needs of users, customers, and stakeholders, leveraging User Experience (UX), Customer Experience (CX), and Service Design disciplines to deliver greater efficiency, efficacy, and user satisfaction.  

Understanding Experience Design Disciplines  

That was a lot of jargon used to help define HX. So, let’s break down what some of those terms mean, how they differ, and what role they play in Human Experience Design.

User Experience (UX)

UX was the only true “experience” design practiced for a long time.  User Experience refers to the quality of the end-user’s interaction with a product, system, or interface in a digital context. It encompasses the user's emotions, perceptions, and satisfaction while interacting with a website, app, software, or digital platform. UX design aims to make interactions intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable, enhancing the user's overall satisfaction.

Key aspects of UX

  • Usability ensures that products are easy to use, intuitive, and require minimal effort to achieve tasks or goals.
  • User-Centered Design focuses on understanding user needs, goals, and expectations to create interfaces that cater to users' expectations.
  • Interaction Design involves designing how users interact with a product, including layout, navigation, and interactive elements.
  • Testing and Iteration frequently test prototypes with real users to identify issues and make improvements through iterative design processes.
  • Accessibility ensures that users of varying abilities can access products and services, and products meet 508 compliance standards.

Customer Experience (CX)

Customer experience refers to a customer's collective experience across touchpoints with a product, service, or organization, creating a consistent and desirable experience. CX encompasses a customer's entire journey with a brand, from initial awareness and engagement to post-purchase support and ongoing interactions.   To deliver a good customer experience, CX relies on service design, which we will talk about shortly but requires orchestrating a business’s operations and resources. CX is broader than UX and extends to both digital and physical touchpoints. CX aims to create positive emotions, build brand loyalty, and foster long-lasting relationships with customers.

Key aspects of CX  

  • Emotion and Perception: CX emphasizes how customers feel about the interactions they have with a brand. Positive emotions and seamless experiences contribute to building strong customer relationships.
  • End-to-End Journey: CX considers the entire customer journey, including pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase stages. It involves understanding pain points and addressing them.
  • Omnichannel Consistency: Providing consistent experiences across channels (online, in-store, mobile app, etc.) is crucial for a cohesive CX.
  • Customer Feedback: Gathering and analyzing customer feedback helps identify improvement areas and optimize the overall experience.

Service Design: A non-X

Service Design improves the experience of the employee by designing, aligning, and optimizing the delivery of digital and physical services to create a seamless and valuable end-to-end experience for customers. Service Design considers the entire ecosystem of interactions, processes, touchpoints, and stakeholders involved in delivering a service.

Key aspects of Service Design  

  • Enterprise Optimization: Service Design involves reimagining and optimizing business processes to eliminate bottlenecks, reduce friction, and enhance efficiency.
  • User-Centered Design: Similar to both CX and UX, Service Design places a strong emphasis on understanding the needs, behaviors, and preferences of users, or “service actors,” to create services that cater to them.
  • Value exchanges: With consideration towards interlinked systems and processes, typical service design activities focus on creating the ideal balance between service actors in what we call a value exchange, where engagements are mutually beneficial. Value can come in the form of information, access, collaboration, or even monetary value.
  • Touchpoint Design: Designing individual touchpoints (such as website interfaces, customer service interactions, etc.) to align with the overall service experience and customer journeys.
  • Co-Creation: Involving customers and other stakeholders in the design process ensures that the product meets shared expectations and needs.

Human-Centered Design (HCD)

HCD applies to a wide range of fields, from product design and service design to even architecture and beyond. It emphasizes collaboration, empathy, and a continuous feedback loop to ensure the actual needs and preferences of the people it intends to serve are met. HCD aims to solve complex problems by creating solutions that are functional and efficient and resonate with users on an emotional level.

Key aspects of HCD  

  • Empathy: Gaining a deep understanding of users' experiences, motivations, and challenges through research and direct engagement.
  • Problem Definition: Defining the problems and opportunities from a human perspective, considering how solutions will impact users.
  • Iterative Process: Engaging in an iterative design process that involves ideation, prototyping, testing, and refining solutions based on user feedback.
  • User Involvement: Involving users in the design process to ensure that the final solutions meet their needs and expectations.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: Collaborating with diverse experts to integrate different perspectives and create well-rounded solutions.

So, what is HX?  

Human experience design takes a broader view and encompasses the holistic journey, emotions, and perceptions of individuals across various touchpoints and interactions. This is why HX encompasses so many design disciplines. Each of the previously mentioned design disciplines focuses on the different aspects of the human experience within a product, service, organization, or brand.

While HCD is a methodological approach that guides the design and development of solutions by prioritizing user needs and feedback. HX is a comprehensive concept that drives organizations to create meaningful and memorable user and customer experiences.

This is why Human Experience (HX) employs human-centered design principles in the creation of digital products and services to meet the needs of users, customers, and both active and passive stakeholders.

The Human Experience Design Process

The Softrams HX team collectively has 232 years of experience within the disciplines that comprise a holistic approach to human-centered design. Because of this, we use a Discover, Explore, Build, and Evaluate (DEBE) Framework that integrates within programs using various forms of agile frameworks and methodologies.  

So how does this work? At the onset of a program initiative, HX Team members conduct Discovery using various qualitative and quantitative research methods to inform strategy and vision. In Exploration, we collaborate with users and cross-functional teams to quickly generate and explore potential solutions. In Build, we leverage design systems and design tools to generate solutions. In Evaluate, we test our models with users to ensure that we’re building the right solution, in addition to building the solution right.

Throughout this process, HX collaborates closely with other delivery functions, such as engineering and product management, to hone in on an initiative's desirability, viability, and feasibility. HX team members contribute to requirements-gathering activities and generate models and prototypes that create not only greater clarity on product execution but also greater alignment on how services can meet user needs, goals, and expectations.  

Why is HX so important?  

HX practices help to ensure both the functionality and efficiency of products and services and enables organizations to create meaningful and memorable experiences for their users or customers. HX practices also help ensure that digital solutions are inclusive and intuitive for diverse user groups, complying with the latest accessibility regulations. By understanding their users' needs, goals, and expectations, organizations can proceed with greater confidence that their solutions are functional and efficient.

Theresa Sintetos
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Share this story
Follow on Face Book IconFollow on Twitter IconFollow on Linked In Icon

Related Stories from our blog


Defining Digital: Differentiating Between CX and UX

Mandy Dols
Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Tips for a Successful Remote Usability Test

Chris Capuano
Friday, March 10, 2023

Using HCD to Build our HPT Solution

Darby Arden
Friday, March 3, 2023
View More