Posted on: 3 June 2016
Tedde van Gelderen
Founder & President
Why UX Is A Rewarding And Endlessly Evolving Field
Last week at the dinner table I had a conversation that pushed my thinking.
My oldest child is going to university and her friend is in her first year. Her friend talked about what topic she studied and how interesting it was. At that point I jumped in and shared my passion for UX; the field, the work and how it somehow never ceased to be interesting, different and rewarding. Then she asked me the ‘why’ question. This is where I slowed down. Yes, why does UX always seem to be different and interesting? What makes this space endless and rewarding? My answer was twofold:
First, it was the human side of things. I find motivation and energy from the thought of helping people in the context of our current environment. Knowing all the tech and tools around us aren’t evaporating anytime soon, I enjoy the part where I know this work is going to make someone’s day a fraction easier to get through. I enjoy knowing that we’re not wasting precious time on things that simply don’t matter. Like the time it takes to find the right page on a website to gather the data I need. Understanding and then creating experiences that will make lives just a tick nicer, the sun brighter. That kind of thinking gives me purpose. I don’t see UX as being truly unique in that sense, but I wished that more jobs had this characteristic, something that gives us instant purpose as to why we do it.
The second part of my answer surprised me as I realized how semi-backward it sounded. I started to talk about the niche-ness of this field. How many companies and teams are still not following decent UX research and design approaches, even though they work all hours of the day, pulling themselves through laughably inefficient product creation processes. I use the term ‘laughable’ because, most times, when I paint a new sales lead a picture of how they design and develop their experiences, they burst out laughing at how accurately I’ve described their situation. The client and I then embark on the journey of enlightenment, of discovering a better way, and slowly adopting the tools, techniques and processes associated with a truly workable and effective way of designing products & services.
Together we create experiences that work from the moment you turn the product on / log in and do what you expect it to do. Experiences that hold you by the hand and teach you new things at the right time and catch you when you fall. Experiences that don’t make you feel stupid but instead value your time and give you what you need.
The excitement of the enlightenment journey is one of fulfillment: To get someone to understand what UX can do and to buy into the approach, for them to realize how this process works better than what they did before, and that is this gift of understanding will keep on giving.
The reward for me is not only that they ‘get it’ but also that they were open to listening, open to the notion that what they’ve been doing up to now doesn’t make a ton of sense and they want to change. The semi-backwards part is the that many companies are not there yet. And I like that to a degree. That there are so many people to help gives me energy and purpose. So in the end, our dinner conversation became a story of making the world a better place, and enjoying the fact that there are still so many places still to make better. Of course, by now I’d lost the interest of my daughter and her friend (and maybe you too) as this sounded a bit ‘out there’ and highly irrelevant to a first year university student.
I do hope that one day they get as excited about their respective fields of choice, as it never gets old for me!
What are your thoughts on the ‘why’ of UX? I’d love to read your comments below…
Tedde van Gelderen
Founder & President
Continually looking for ways to improve the experiences of others, Tedde has dedicated his professional life to experience design, research and strategy. He derives energy, motivation, and purpose from improving the experiences of others and believes that every organization — and every industry — can benefit from Experience Thinking.