Why we bother with UX

Before the term User Experience was coined, the planning of a digital project fell under the responsibility of any combination of roles including account managers, project managers, technical leads and creative leads. Although this did, at times, prove successful it did occasionally go awry.

Why we bother with UX

Today, I find clients have pretty much accepted that they need a specialist UX person on hand; they have largely accepted that UX is a fifth role and not just an additional skill that designers, developer et al should have.

However UX isn’t always seen as an essential part of the mix by everyone and is still often ignored if budgets and time get tight.

If no one is focused purely on UX, usability best practice can be overlooked and important points are missed. I’m sure many agencies have experienced a project that has followed at least one these scenarios:

  • A project manager skips user testing because their project is not on time or in budget
  • An account manager puts the client’s wish list ahead of the wants and needs of the users to get the project signed off
  • A technical lead focuses their attention on delivering something that uses the latest technology but is unfathomable to users
  • A creative lead produces something that looks amazing but is inaccessible to a large percentage of users

The problem occurs because people are forced to make unnecessary choices between what they are employed to do and what is good for usability.

UX is a skill in it’s own right

I studied multimedia at uni (rare to get a job doing what I studied). I was a develoepr and a designer pm and an am for a time but I have always had a focu on HCI. That has allowed me to become askilled at UX. I understand marketing but I am not a marketer, I understand code I can’t get knee deep in PHP, I know my whay around photos shop but don’t truly know about deisng principles

Jacks of all trades, masters of none

Although I believe that all disciplines should understand other specialisms – designers and developers need to get UX – they still need to remain true to their own skill set. If they don’t they run the risk of becoming mediocre at everything.

Why demand people be multi skilled – we don’t do it in other industries – when we build a house we want a group of trades each to do what they do best to make sure the house doesn’t fal down. Why not the same for a website.

Project managers should remain focussed on delivery, account managers should embody the client and remind us of the objectives, and creative and technical people should be encouraged to use the best and latest developments in the industry. But all this needs to be balanced with what makes sense for the end user.

By appointing someone to concentrate on the job of delivering User Experience other roles can concentrate on their own specialisms.

I spend all my time listening to what clients want, researching what users need and figuring out what is the best balance for both.

I follow a tried and tested methodology that allows me to formulate an approach that we know is right because it’s backed up with solid thinking.

This grown up approach to planning projects is what we all, all the time. Our industry is becoming more and more established – gone are the days when we could draw a solution on the back of a fag packet!