A Brief History of UX. Its Evolution from 1900 Until Now | by Valerian Kleinschnitz | Jul, 2023

History of UX

It is commonly accepted that UX began around 1900, during the mid-Second Industrial Revolution. During this period, more and more machines and tools were being incorporated to carry out industrial production tasks, and the more these machines were used, the faster the work was done, and the greater the increase in production.

For this reason, it was important to optimize the ease of use and efficiency of the machines to improve the production of goods and services.

This marked the birth of a part of today’s UX.

A few years later, we see how UX was applied to improve the ease of use of early telecommunication devices such as the telegraph and telegram.

telegraph and telegram.
Foto Source: Wikipedia

Later on, UX began to be applied in the field of ergonomics, a discipline responsible for designing workspaces, tools, and tasks to match the physiological, anatomical, and psychological characteristics of the worker.

In ergonomics, we can see the application of UX in aspects such as manufacturing any tool or piece of furniture to make it more enjoyable to use and better adapted to the human body. For example, creating a more comfortable chair for working in an office.

The next milestone in UX is the opening of Disneyland in 1955, an experience centered around the user like no other before. Its creator, the visionary Walt Disney, pioneered creating an experience as a service.

Image: Walt Disney

And finally, we come to the genesis of interaction design and interfaces as we know them today with the emergence of Xerox PARC in 1970, the place where the graphical user interface (GUI), windows, checkboxes, radio buttons, menus, the mouse, and many other things related to current computing, such as object-oriented programming, laser printing, or the Ethernet standard, was developed.

Many of these inventions were due to Xerox’s commitment to something called User-Centered Design, marking the beginning of modern UX.

Years later, in 1995, Donald Norman coined the term User Experience Design and called himself a “User Experience Architect” while working at Apple Computer.

Donald describes his role as one that helps harmonize the user interface and the industrial design process.

“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Image: Donald Norman

From the 1990s onwards, UX experiences exponential growth, and we begin to hear concepts such as usability, interaction design, and information architecture. It is around this time that well-known figures in the current web industry, such as Jakob Nielsen, Alan Cooper, and Steve Krug, emerge.

All of this brings us to the present, where user experience is a fundamental characteristic for achieving the success of a product or service since it largely determines the positive or negative perception of the company.

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