Does UX sell clothes?

Short answer: yes. It sells lots of things.

UX, or User Experience Design, according to some proponents, is the process of designing digital or physical products that are useful, easy to use and delightful to interact with.

UX as a profession spun off from the world of web development in the last 10 or 15 years. Now UX designers remind me vaguely of the first architects in gold rush towns—few people know what they do or why you'd want one (“I just build it myself!”), but there are a lot of sagging roofs.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to hear Ginny Redish speak at a conference of the Society for Technical Communication. Ginny has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard. For 13 years she directed the Document Design Center at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., a center she founded to study problems of workplace writing.

In 1985, she set up one of the first independent usability test laboratories in North America, serving Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SAP, Sony and other clients. Currently she is president of Redish & Associates, Inc. and author of Letting Go of the Words—a book to help “plan, organize, design, write, revise, and test your content so that it is easy to find and easy to use.”