3:35PM May 20 2014
A colleague recently sent me a link to an article ‘UX is dead’ by Paul Gibbins, Associate UX Director at we are experience. My initial reaction was as follows:
I’d better change my job title.
I’d better read it, rather than get panicked and defensive purely by reading the deliberatively provocative headline title.
Then, read the comments, because let’s face it, they’re amusing.
The article discusses the possible semantics around ‘user’ experience or ‘customer’ experience and explores some of the challenges the UX community faces – it’s well worth a read for anyone interested in UI, customer experience and service design.
As I see it, my role at its very simplest is to represent the thoughts and thinking of any person that will ‘connect’ with whatever it is we are designing – I represent the questions (physical, conscious or unconscious) those people will ask and try to come up with the answers to those questions before we start building it and certainly before it goes live!
More often than not those ‘people’ are not a customer in a retail sense – they could be stakeholders, clients, shareholders, sales staff, the admin team – the requirements of those ‘people’ still need to be considered as they may impact the overall project. Of course at some stage we group all the requirements and prioritise them, but throughout the process they need to be considered and understood and the experience developed for each. Many of those requirements could well be around achieving tasks so the structure and flow of the experience is essential as well as the individual elements of UI – it’s a sum of its parts – and as the article discusses, the whole needs to be considered as much as the granular detail.
Certainly in my role its less about UI design and has always been more about designing the full experience for those that connect with the product; often that journey includes touchpoints outside of the product that I am responsible for, so it’s essential we understand all the touchpoints and cater for the full journey as much as is in our control. Maybe that’s why Paul’s article actually delights me, it’s important that we craft beautiful UI and individual elements that function as expected, but the experience is what will be remembered – a recent quote from Alan Cooper sums this up incredibly – “Good UX design is an even mix of big-picture strategy & fussy little details. A grain of sand in your shoe is just as bad as the wrong size.”
The very principle that we are designing something that is optimised for its intended audience and will achieve that audience’s requirements, in turn achieving business requirements – that’s not dead, in my opinion it’s more alive and important than ever – we need to consider the impacts of the user’s device, their location, the time of the day they access, the browser they use, the tasks they are intending to carry out, how and if they share it…the list goes on – the emotional and logistical needs of the audience need to be heard, understood and catered for more than ever.
What we call it or what my job title is – I don’t really mind, as long as we keep on delivering on their goals and needs and creating memorable and engaging experiences.
User Experience Architect