UX and the Runaway Buzzword Snowball

5 min readJun 6, 2019

Over the last decade, user experience (UX) has finally taken hold. Digital products are getting better. Well, mostly. While amazing online services like Airbnb, Cash, Waze, and Slack are becoming more the norm, the world is still awash with hard to use, frustrating sites, apps, and software. If organizations care so much about UX, why is this?

Buzzword Shelf Life

When something is new, we think of it as other. It is a novel ingredient we’ve added to an existing dish.

As a GenX guy, I remember the early web. If it wasn’t nailed down, we put an “e” in front of it (as in “electronic”). Inspired by “e-mail,” we gave the world “e-commerce,” “e-books,” “e-learning,” and even “e-zines.” We loved this prefix so much, we added it to our titles. Thus the inevitable director of “e-business.” In 1994, Apple even created e•world. Look it up on Ask Jeeves or Alta Vista.

Then Steve Jobs 2.0 showed up and singlehandedly changed the “e” to an “i.” Same idea. New letter. Where would we be without the iMac, iPhone, and the dreaded iChat? But time marches on. Now Apple is abandoning the “i.”

That’s the problem with trendy names. They have a shelf life and die from overuse. If we kept all the odd names ever invented, Tim Cook would be the iCEO of Apple and American industry would still hire directors of electricity.

Buzzwords pass into history as the things they describe become a normal part of business and life. E-commerce is simply selling stuff online. Even iTunes is now just Music. Thank goodness for that.

The UX Snowball

User experience was also once a shiny, new concept. Coined in the (gasp) early 90s, it originally referred to (and is still best understood as) the entire experience a person has with a product or thing. This broad definition transcends the digital part of digital products.

Over time, this idea has narrowed. When people talk about user experience today, they usually mean screen-based design and interaction. This notion has gained momentum, especially as firms making websites have proliferated. UX has achieved buzzword status.

Like all good buzzwords, UX has become a runaway snowball, indiscriminately barreling…


Online experiences don’t have to be frustrating. We’re user experience experts making digital products useful, usable, and loved. #UX #UI #userexperience #web