We throw a lot of buzzwords around in digital design without always realizing how they connect to one another. The three disciplines of user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), and product experience (PX) all work to produce a digital product that looks good, performs well, and helps a brand achieve its goals. The distinctions between these disciplines are subtle, but all three are integral to designing a functional and user-friendly end product. 

One reason that we sometimes conflate these areas is that they are, in fact, rather similar. In fact, sometimes designers use these terms interchangeably. While they are related, these three disciplines are distinct. Here’s how:

Developing a product with the end user in mind is known as user experience design, or UX design. UX design concentrates on the details of product functionality and guarantees that every step of the user journey is meaningful and personalized. Designers thoroughly test each stage and continually seek feedback. UX designers are laser-focused on their clients’ needs and may concentrate on a single product or channel, such as a website or app.

In most cases, UX design teams work on products as they are being developed, before they are released to the public, as well as refining their design and flow once they have launched. They may incorporate design research and customer feedback into their workflow, as do the other two disciplines. 

PX, or product experience, is similarly concerned with problem-solving and developing a solid UX, but from a broader perspective. A product experience designer will consider the complete customer journey from beginning to end, as well as how this long-term strategy meets their company’s business objectives. Generally, PX takes place after a user is converted into a customer. 

Customer Experience (CX) refers to the connection that a customer has with a business, which, of course, includes their relationship with the product. This discipline often explores emotions and perceptions surrounding a brand, rather than the technical details of the user experience. CX continues throughout the customer’s journey, from the first purchase to the end of the relationship. CX covers all channels and products that a customer uses to interact with a brand, including both digital and in-person touchpoints. While a UX designer may be hyper-focused on one channel, Customer Experience includes all the different channels a brand holds. 

Just as a good UX designer won’t overlook their company’s business goals, a smart product designer will not ignore the details that make up the user experience. Customer experience must consider how UX and PX work together to help customers succeed. Ideally, the customer, product, and user experience not only overlap but also operate in tandem. 

In today’s ever-connected world, the opportunities for these three disciplines to collaborate are only increasing. In fact, some of the boundaries between these areas of expertise are starting to blur, meaning that user-focused professionals increasingly work across disciplines. This is why UX designers can familiarize themselves with product design, and CX teams can work with UX and product designers to help improve the overall customer flow.