Things are not all good on the ivory tower of user experience design. While business leadership is touting Design Thinking as the theoretical path to salvation, front-end developers, web designers and the driftwood of technology are shoring up at UX Design to redefine their purpose.
This, unfortunately, has led to the dilution of empathy and the rigour of our craft that makes technology more human. So, if you are a trained UX practitioner you should differentiate your expertise and if you want to become a UX designer you should evaluate your decision. It is time to consider these changes that are affecting you as we speak.
The ‘catch all’ entry point
Today UX seems to be the easiest way that untrained professionals with no experience enter the design realm. There are online courses that teach you all the necessary concepts and not necessarily the applications – I am guilty of designing one such course too though I have consciously tried to bridge the gap. In my opinion, these courses are good for product team members to work with UX professionals – to demand the right results. Or for other creative professionals or architects to explore UX as an option. However, these courses cannot make anybody an expert. The learners end up as professionals who sound right in an interview and cannot deliver the right user experiences. So we need to up the ante and make stronger entry criterion.
UX for task and content
User Experience is for products that are task-centric, where the users get something done or content-centric where the users read/watch/learn something. Jesse James Garrett in his Elements of User Experience Design model articulates the conceptual differences between these products.
What does this mean? While UX designers are trained to solve problems in a task-centric product, their ability to understand consumption of content or information in a news app or an enterprise intranet is abysmally low. So editorial savviness of a UX designer is constantly questioned while designing a content portal, a video magazine or content marketing program.
UX designers should understand content, work with editorial teams and explore representation or publishing as an extension of their prowess. UX designers should also gain expertise in UX writing for instructional and user-facing content.
This is not over yet. Watch this space for two more parts in this series. You can also catch my talk on this in a pre-event for DesignUp in Chennai (to be announced soon).