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The user is the arbiter of the product or service's utility.

UX came into its own in the early 2000s with the advent of NNg human computer interaction as early offshoot of ergonomics, industrial engineering and cognitive science/experimental psychology.

The idea was that design, which was traditionally top-down and prescriptive, should be more inductive, scientific, or data centered. Furthermore, the idea of doing customer research panels, behavioral economics, and ethnographic studies to understand how people were using the products became cemented in the 80's based on early 60's and 70's approach to doing psychological experiments in controlled environments to see the results of a postulated hypothesis-based deductive confirmation.

Finally today we have what we would call Product/Service Strategy & Design. These disciplines are not just about the product experience, but also interested in defining what the product's capabilities are. In product experience, capability/function, is closely entwined with its utility or usefulness. A pocket knife's purpose is defined by not only its form, but how the user grasps the tool. Besides the obvious cutting, the base could be used as a hammer.

As Product or Service Designers, we must be cognizant of these emergent usage patterns. The intersection of utility and capability are defined by the interaction. In essence, the experiencer then also becomes the designer of the product, by virtue of their subjective perception of the tool's utility.


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