Let’s Talk About the UX Worldview
I had been churning over an idea that Ben suggested during last week’s podcast. He asked “How do you convince a web designer that a user centered process is best?” It really summed up what he and I have been doing over the last year –
training ourselves to become UX practitioners immersing ourselves in the UX worldview. So, how do we communicate that perspective to another?
With this on my mind, I stumbled upon an intriguing post from Boon of Gluethink, which was then commented on by Usability Counts / Patrick Neeman. Boon is very honestly questioning his experience and development as a caring interaction designer. He starts off, “I used to call myself a UX designer, but I don’t think I can anymore.” and it gets really good. By listing his perceived weaknesses, he deftly highlights major issues with design and building for the web. He struck a chord with me and many others as evidenced by the comments and discussion. I really identify with him and his struggle with the industry.
Below are his ‘weaknesses’. I’m going to have to address them by number. And, summarize / categorize the outstanding quotes from the comments.
Just because I can imagine great user experiences doesn’t make my designs right
1 – Reading and interacting with the incredible UX community, we know the right things to do (user-testing, ‘upfront research’, surveys,etc.) or at least can imagine them. But we don’t follow those practices because of internal culture, personal failures, … or just because.
Skinner writes: “But I think we all know that testing is important, it doesn’t create the right solution, but it highlights problems and allows for iteration.”
Not knowing enough stuff that’s been done before
2 - It’s stressful, Boon relates, to reconcile the many different threads of UX thinking, disciplines and fields. UX didn’t spring up over night. The roots of the current UX mindset are wide and deep.
My view is that as long as you’re focusing on what’s appropriate for the specific client / organization and end user, helping them to solve problems, and as you say, caring, you’re doing the right thing.
Invent a label for yourself
Don’t be the new kid on the block – watching what I say
3 – There are unwritten rules of etiquette and style which some people love to enforce. Some folks loved the band pictured above. Some people won’t admit it today. My advice to Boon – keep it classy, but don’t be afraid to let your freak flag fly – even if involves hair gel or guerrilla user testing, or Lean UX or W Edwards Deming
Skinner writes: “Buzzwords don’t become buzzwords for no reason, more experienced people will sneer at them because they’ve seen and done this all before”
Fox writes: “Labels and buzzwords are something I struggle with too. But I think mostly they are just branding. I say, use whatever will gain necessary traction.”
Grinblo writes on Dahlstroms post:
Perhaps there are people out there that use UX as a buzzword to attract attention to themselves but aren’t really focused on the user at heart. But a lot of us care a lot and work hard to make sure that caring is translated into action. To me, that should be the focus of what we talk about, not what makes or break a “real” UX person or what people’s job titles should be.
Not knowing… is bad
4 – Boon says that he isn’t the best designer that he knows. Nobody knows it all. And, if they did, they would be a Know-it-all and nobody would like them. It’s good to not know. It’s good to care, to have passion and to strive towards perfection. You don’t know it all. So what? shrug it off and move your feet.
Ochui writes: “It’s hard to admit that you don’t know in an industry where you’re mostly expected to know.”
The ‘bad’ agency
5- Being the odd-man out can suck. But just because you work in advertising and marketing doesn’t mean you should kill yourself.
Holy crap - Anna Dahlstrom can write! And, she wrote a very nice post describing her informed and detailed views on the issues raised by Boon.
Choose a title that you feel best describes what you do and don’t be scared of making mistakes. We’ve all been there and even the big names where once new to the game. You find your way by trying and doing and anyone who judges that without offering guidance along the way are not worth paying attention to. Instead find people who’s approach and thoughts you share and learn from them. Ignore the ones who tell you you’re doing it wrong or point out for the sake of pointing fingers that you are not an X but an Y. These people are the few and there are so many others out there who are brilliant, welcoming and supportive. After all what we in the UX community are about is great experiences and journeys that help people achieve what they want to accomplish.
And, lastly, I want to quote Neeman, who writes:
A lot of UX Designers are fooling themselves when they claim they are UX Designers.
They don’t have a process.
They don’t do testing.
They don’t do research.
They just jump straight into wireframes.
They jump straight into Photoshop mocks.
They produce shiny deliverables, not effective communication tools.
hmmm. Like Boon, am I guilty of some of these things? I am. So I might not be a UX designer. But I do have a UX worldview.
“Free your mind and you ass will follow” is a quote I like to say. In this context, it means that one should start to THINK like a UX’er (free your mind) and let the practice develop (your ass will follow). Boon sums it up nicely in a reply to Anna: The real purpose behind the post was about calling UX for what it is – just a broad worldview shared by many disciplines.”