Don’t expect a masters treatise, much in the way of theory, or anything resembling proof that UX Is Right.
I’m also not going to pretend I’m something I’m not. I’m not going to use a lot of flowery language, cryptic metaphor or industry jargon. It is what it is. A rose is a rose.
The important thing for me right here and now is to spell out what I do when I’m applying user experience principles to the stuff I create. If you look closely, you’ll notice the topics are ordered according to where I spent most of my energy and attention.
Interaction Design: identify what tasks a user needs to accomplish, understand why they need to accomplish it one way and not the others, and figure out how to provide an obvious/efficient/effective path through the software to successfully complete the task.
Usability Engineering: identify the trouble spots, understand why that causes problems for people, and figure out how to make it better.
User Research: listen, ask questions, observe, ask more questions, offer unfinished ideas for early feedback, and thank them for their time and input.
Information Architecture: spell words properly, choose words that users are familiar with, don’t use more words than you need to.
Visual Design: choose colours that aren’t too garish, use colours and fonts consistently throughout the application(s), make sure things are aligned, don’t make users hunt for the affordances and cues.