A Guide to The Domain of User Experience

The magical land of user experience is surrounded by a sea, with mountains and rivers, paths and pitfalls.

Diane Bowen
3 min readJan 16, 2021
A fantasy map illustrating the activities of the UX practitioner.

Sea of User Research and the Harbor of Insights

User research clarifies user goals, motivations, and behaviors. It surrounds and informs business strategy and user experience design. There are many user research methods, from attitudinal to behavioral, in-person to unmoderated, fast and shallow to deep and rich.

Just as important as conducting research is surfacing insights. Insights and recommendations move design and project priorities forward with intention.

Moor of Content Strategy

Nearly every business needs more content strategy. Sometimes UX practitioners encounter content collection, production, and governance as tussocks in boggy ground disconnected from the path of empathy. Pieces of content strategy may be scattered across departments and teams. Content strategy is in the domain of user experience because it connects content with business goals and user needs.

Mountains of Facilitation

UX practitioners facilitate exploration of problem spaces. Problems are defined, end states suggested, and the means to reach success are discussed, resulting in shared understanding and mutual goals.

Stakeholder Territory

For a shared understanding of project success, UX practitioners must ensure stakeholders articulate how project goals meet business strategy. Strategy drives business goals, decision making, and product design. Business goals and user goals generally differ from one another yet both are merged in any user experience project.

IA Lake

Information architecture (IA) gathers and arranges information for current and future states. UX practitioners untangle complexity and bring context to business information. A well-designed IA results in fertile soil for solutions to help users find what they need.

Fertile Soil of Solutions

At the heart of the Domain of User Experience is the cultivation of solutions. Fertilized by user research and IA, solutions are harvested from Service Design and Interaction Design (IxD).

Service Design and IxD bundle meaning, structure, constraints, and user context. The UX practitioner must successfully choreograph complex technical and user touchpoints to ideate on user-centered solutions.

Collaboration Castle, Communication Towers, and Troublesome Ground

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” — Helen Keller

Collaboration and communication are primary skills for UX Practitioners, both essential for navigating the Domain of User Experience. The dangerous and troublesome ground of pride, inflexibility, information hoarding, and invulnerability prevent teamwork and conversation, hindering the aims of an excellent user experience.

The Great Forests of Information Design

Information design differs from Information Architecture(IA). IA brings structure to information. Information design carves identifiable paths in thickets of structured information. Skillful information design adds clarity for optimal user comprehension and decision making.

UI Design District

The UI (User Interface) Design District is a neighborhood of related skills and may include prototyping, crafting design systems, and HTML/CSS. Some UX practitioners master visual languages and platform conventions to stylize products for defined user flows, wireframes, and other structures, but not all UX practitioners design the final UI.

Visual Design Villa

The last stop in the Domain of User Experience is visual design. UX practitioners with strong visual design skills focus on aesthetics, imagery, form, visual hierarchy, color psychology, typography, and detail. Sometimes visual designers with expert skills are entrusted with final user-facing design.

Thrilling Exploration

At every place in The Domain of User Experience, the UX practitioner must be aware of the whole in which they are working, whether it be observing, analyzing or creating.

UX practitioners are a brave lot, willing to sail the broad seas of user research, merge business goals with user needs, walk in paths of empathy, and collaboratively explore design while navigating rivers of shared understanding.



Diane Bowen

UX Research Manager, motivated to invest in my team, craft exceptional end-to-end user experiences, live with integrity, and contribute joy where I’m planted.