I would like to thank my twitter feed, for bringing me links that would help me explain to the clients and managers I work with, the nuances of what they’re trying to achieve.
User experience is some sort of buzzword in the web design and product development circle. Or at least in the company I work in.
Managers talk about it, and the designers “name-drop” it.
My boss calls me a usability professional. Sadly, it’s not what I want to be or want to be called, nor am I equipped to be one.
1. Clarify what you’re aiming for
This piece in UX Matters, entitled More than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience Part I helps explain my predicament.
See, I want to be a User Experience professional. I want to be a user researcher and, hopefully, an interaction designer.
That is much more than usability. Usability only refers to the ease with which you are able to do something. Whether a task can be accomplished or not; whether people make errors and how easily they navigate through a device or interface.
A user’s experience (hence the phrase “user experience“) can’t be oversimplified into just how easy it is to do something (otherwise it would just be called “user ease”).
It has to be enjoyable to use, or give some sort of value. It’s an entire package of sensations and delivery beyond “efficiency”.
As the article points out, it’s usability + value + desirability + adoptability.
Multiple frameworks have already cropped up I know, this just seems to be the most concise and memorable one I’ve seen (so it’s easy to repeat).
2. Acknowledge that it takes a lot of humility, emotional maturity and self-restraint (not just creativity and camaraderie) to make a multi-discipline group work together
This strikes a chord because a) there’s this one particular boss in our corporation who loves using the word “silos”, in meetings, to repeatedly refer to why it’s difficult to create successful strategy.
b) Because I’ve realized that product development teams are composed of people from different educational and professional backgrounds, all required to be creative and productive together.
The really really great thing about Anderson’s entry, is that he argues for both the good and bad sides of deferring to each other’s expertise and “leaving your _____ hat at the door”. Because, that is how complex the UX design team situation is.
On one hand, you do want to respect that the designer knows design best, the developers know code best and the researchers know social sciences best. But, yes, once you’re all discussing “UX”, everybody really tries to stir the pot and get their hands in the stew.
I also like his conclusion, regarding the collaborative process centering on delivering a “good experience” to the consumer.
I wish it were that easy, though. When put in practice in real life. But at least, in terms of corporate evangelization, Anderson’s articles and talks (“Borrowing from the field of child development…“) would be very helpful in explaining how team division and conflicts should be dealt with.
3. Dirk from Involution Studios writes about his (seemingly scathing) reaction [“Losing faith in UX”] to a Whitney Hess article, which, to be fair, did seem to put UX designers on a high horse. Or a much higher horse than she should have.
I sympathize with Mr….. Dirk. Despite my not having worked in or with as many start-ups. Mostly because of humility.
I am humbled by my new-ness in this field, and by the fact that, realistically, I am primarily a market researcher and a user researcher.
Meaning: As much as I badger and hammer my digital strategist teammates to refine their strategy (or actually make a sound one), since I’m the one who “knows the user”, I respect the difficulty of what they have on their plate.
Product Strategy, particularly in my team, is differentiated from…my role – user research. And, as much as, sometimes, I’d like to think I could create better strategy, it isn’t my job to and I honestly wouldn’t enjoy just doing that day-in and day-out.
I’ve always been the one checking how people respond to products or content, or finding out user needs, but it’s a whole other level of responsibility to put a product out there and your ass on the line, juggling business decisions and all. This is why I particularly dream of becoming an Interaction Designer, not a Product Manager or Brand Strategist. I’d rather work with systems, framework and evidence, more than price points and competition.
To each his own, basically. I just hope that people had as nuanced a view about work.
4. This is really more for me.
I like how this UX matters article articulately differentiated the disciplines behind Agile and User Experience.
Again, being new in a web design team, these are phrases I kept hearing over and over and over during my first weeks of work.
It was almost funny, sometimes. People would get into lengthy discussions or arguments on what kind of method to use, when, if you really thought about it, it’s not as if they were mutually exclusive.
This article, Agile User Experience Design, communicates how “Agile” is a web development process and “User experience” is a design tenet and methodology. They can actually work together. Please read the article if you want to know more; Ms. Janet Six is much more articulate.
5. On a lighter note, there’s also “How to annoy a UX designer“.
It’s really practical and funny at the same time. Thank you very much, Peter Hornby, for writing this.
“Worst answer—You’re kidding, right? You’re employing me as a UX designer, and you want me to code? Sure, I’ll hack something together. Perhaps we should discuss my hourly rate?”
And this really fun infographic! on chart types 🙂