Don’t think UI, think UE.

We are full-on into what Joseph Pine and James Gilmore dubbed “The Experience Economy” in their 1999 book of the same name. No news to marketers, right?

Well, maybe. Although Amazon comes up with 48 books in the immediate neighborhood of “experiential marketing,” and Google weighs in with 495,000 hits, do you really treat marketing as an experience? Do the shops, suppliers, partners, and vendors that you’re a customer of treat you to an experience (and is it a good one? Merely good? Awesome? Nonpareilled? Un-be-freakin’-lievable?)

For many customers, the prelude to any “user experience” with you is going to be an electronic engagement, usually though the web site or an email. And while designers and programmers (good ones, anyway) worry a lot about the “user interface,” do marketers worry nearly as much about “user engagement?” Because before you can have a “user experience” you have to have user engagement, and while user engagement may start with the user interface, an interface is only “a point where two systems, organizations etc meet and interact” (Oxford American Dictionary); engagement is “the act of being involved.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be involved than simply meeting and interacting.

So should we stop even thinking UI, and start thinking UE (user engagement)? Especially with Web 2.0 capabilities and expectations staring at us?

The only thing harder for me to part with than my hard-earned dollar is my hard-earned attention span. And like my dollars, I have only so much attention to go around. Engage me, and you get more of my attention. And more of my dollars.