As vice-president of the User Experience Club at UTDallas, I often get asked what User Experience means to me. I preface my definition with the idea that UX is either the Magic or Meyham that a person experiences with something they use. To expand, my working definition would be that user experience is the sum total of interaction between a person and a product, service, or brand.
The barriers to entry for new technology products into the market are slowly going away, this is very apparent with the web and Appstores. A repercussion of this is that there are many poorly designed products in the mix that are competing for consumers' attention. UX has been growing as industry because even with all the innovation going on, it's not enough to just present a user with some value, you also have to take away any pain that a person will have with that product so they may be delighted and look to share their delight as Social Proof that that product is worth the purchase.
UX is adjusting the Pain-Value ratio. Motor vehicles bring plenty of value to our lives, they give us the ability to traverse large spans of space in shorter time, as opposed to every trek to a distant family member being an embarking on a journey with all the risk involved. Motor vehicles have allowed us to refer to a larger territory as our area of operation; some of us work 50 miles from where we live, and commute everyday with no sweat. The value of a car is so high that even if the associated pain was that in order to use the car you needed to be tazed every day, people would still use it. Early cars were a pain in the ass to own and maintain but people who could afford them still bought and used them.
The same can't be said for products like Snapchat, smartwatches (in their current incarnation), concerts; these things don’t really bring us that great of value, so for companies to be able to sell their products to the masses and make their profits, it behooves them to pay attention to the UX of their products and attempt to have minimal pain associated with the minimal value of their products. And this I believe is what is growing the UX profession.
UX professions spend years learning about people and how to design systems for them. A bit of misunderstanding (even within UX professionals) is that UI and UX are different things, but this isn't true. If UX is the sum of ALL interactions between a person and product then UI would rightly fall under the umbrella of UX; as well as Visual design, Information architecture, package design, service design, branding, usability and every other part of the product development process that goes into designing the experience of a product. By that understanding all professionals whose work touches on the design of products are UX designers, just with specializations.
My father is an architect by profession and I've gotten the opportunity to watch his work over the years, visiting sites, attending proposal meetings, delivering deliverable, etc. On inspection, its notable that Architecture is in fact product design, after all, a building does offer a service to a human being. Architects spend time learning about the way people use space and how to design said spaces. There are many industries like Finance, medical and education that are becoming disrupted now because its being recognized that people deserve better experiences. This enlightenment come from empathizing with people. This growing consciousness of what it means to be human and how we can make our lives easier has been a lifelong interest of mine, and I look to explore it much, much further.