UX IS NOT A PROFESSION

UX IS NOT A PROFESSION

There is a direct link between your organization’s revenues and the experience you deliver to your customers and users. More and more companies are aware of this and realize that they need to address their lack of UX expertise. The solution? Hire a UX lead and the ‘problem’ is solved. Unfortunately, it rarely is because UX is not a single profession.

It sounds trivial but the sole goal of a UX is to meet customer and user needs. The only way to achieve this is by developing a detailed understanding of user and customer needs by doing thorough research. This will need to be done by somebody with a strong background in, so called, behavioural science, such as psychology. After all it it not just about asking questions but it is about asking questions that give you answers that you can actually base decisions on.

Once needs have been identified, we can move on to the actual design of the UX. This requires not only an expert with knowledge of the latest and greatest interaction techniques but also input from developers. It is their job to challenge the UX design by suggesting new technical ways of doing things. Moreover, no UX is designed in one go. Iterative steps are required starting with the information architecture followed by high level concept designs and finally designs with all the details in place. To make sure the designs meet user needs, iterative testing with end-users is indispensable. This is where we need our psychologist(s) again. Even if your UX lead does have the skills to conduct user testing then it is still not advisable to let the person who designed it test it for obvious reasons.

The last but not least phase in UX development is visual design. This is a profession on its own and it is very rare to find a psychologist, software developer or an interaction design expert who is also capable of delivering a high quality visual design. Most people I know who are very capable in any of the previous UX design stage, including myself, will have to pay people to accept their visual designs.

In summary, designing an optimal UX requires expertise in behavioural science (e.g. psychology), interaction design, information architecture, engineering, human factors, graphics design etc. Companies often underestimate this largely because they themselves do not have a good understanding of what is involved in UX design. They can be forgiven for thinking that hiring a lead UX will solve everything but it doesn’t. It is very rare if not impossible to find one person who is good at everything and it isn’t fair to have such high expectation from just one individual.

Personally I have yet to meet a ‘UX lead’ who is the octopus that many companies expect this person to be . However, if you think that you are that person then please prove me wrong, I would love to hear from you.

Dr. Leo Poll is President of Akendi UK.  A firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design, to learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.co.uk

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