UX Design is bullshit

That’s right, I said it. And I’ll tell you why…

Okay, cards on the table, I mean the title ‘UX Design’. It encompasses so much it’s difficult to explain exactly what it is (Unless you’re wikipedia). It even goes by other names like “Customer Experience Design” which just confuses the situation more. Argh!

I feel that while some people still don’t fully understand it, everyone is a UX Designer. I mean, who hasn’t said;

“OMFG, this is so annoying to use!!”

You are analysing the user experience and know how it could be better. Well done! You’re on your way to becoming a UX Designer.

So you might be asking yourself;

“But Matt, aren’t you a UX Designer?”

Well, yes, you’re not wrong, that is my title in work. I see myself as more of a Product Designer. In fact, even ‘Designer’ or ‘Maker’ would suffice. We, as designers, create a lot of things. We aren’t limited to the what the skin of a product looks like, which is what some people would perceive us to be doing.

Design, within the last decade especially has evolved into more than just how something looks (insert famous Steve Jobs quote here). What we do isn’t restricted to websites and apps. It covers so much more.

Becoming immersed in the clients business from start to finish is imperative. Asking questions like, How does a person discover this product/service? What tone of voice does your business need to use? What is a customers first interaction with the product? How will this become part of their day-to-day lives? will start you on the right path.

There are so many businesses that just ignore these things because they have a shiny website or app. Yeah, the site looks cool, but the box I receive the product in is boring and uninteresting and the instructions are confusing.

Start thinking about everything, not just our little ‘bit’.

Some companies have thought things through. One of these companies is IKEA.

Ikea’s instruction manual style. Can you follow them?

Their designers don’t only think of what the brand looks like and how they can apply that style to the website. They are self aware and understand why the customers come to them. Cheap but super cool furniture that can anyone can build. This means designing to those requirements. But despite it being cheap furniture, people still covet the furniture they buy from there. Why is this? Sure, their website is easy to use and their instructions are simple to comprehend, but it’s in store where they have been deviously clever.

You may have heard the stories of people getting lost and even losing track of time in their store. Have no fear, it’s all part of the plan!

Dan Ariely and a couple of other chaps studied how IKEA had increased the perceived value of their products through something that they called the ‘IKEA Effect’. The study stating that increased labour leads to love.

What this means is that when something is difficult to achieve, it results in a greater perceived value from a customer when they have reached their goal. The chaps over at InVision explain how adding friction into a process can increase quality in more detail.

“…friction can create feelings of accomplishment, improve engagement, and increase quality.” — Dina Chaiffetz

This is the kind of design approach that all those that claim to be designers should be taking. Not only exploring the subtle nuances of colour or why a font is easier to read. But educating yourself and asking questions about the bigger picture to explore all facets of the business.

If you are designing a specific part of a process, zoom out a bit. Discover how what you are designing fits into the overall process. Explore how people will actually be using the product in their day to day lives! Don’t give us ‘a real estate tour’. (That’s a mistake all us designers have made. If you say you haven’t, you’re a liar!)

Be a Designer. Not a UX Designer.

Etch’s resident Welshman and Maker Of Things, the focus of Matt’s work lies in the conception, design and development of digital experiences. Employing simple and elegant solutions to design problems. Back home in Wales, he’s considered the most highly regarded Macaroni Cheese connoisseur.

Senior Product Designer at Zoopla, where I design for Humans, not users. Creating experiences that consider how we really interact with the world around us.

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