Ux professionalism
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Ux professionalism

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We’re seeing a potential devaluation of the term UX as lots of inexperienced designers and developers make the slow (and often incomplete) move into user experience. ...

We’re seeing a potential devaluation of the term UX as lots of inexperienced designers and developers make the slow (and often incomplete) move into user experience.

Looking at how crafts transform into professions by charting the history of Architecture, Andy will explain what the discipline really is, how it evolved, and the skills you need to call yourself a user experience designer.

Andy will outline 10 key traits of a user experience professional and argue that we need to evolve in order to face the challenges ahead. He will also state that user experience doesn't just belong to one role, but is everybody's responsibility. So you don't have to switch careers and become a UX designer in order to influence a product's experience.

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  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
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  • Nice overview of the growing discipline, but where's the content dimension (e.g. content strategy, design, and development) in your concept of UX design?
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  • @threefour True. I mostly mentioned Gladwell because he's known for popularising the concept, and because I could find a nice picture of him. But point taken :)
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  • While the overall presentation is very good, well researched and fairly thorough...

    There are a few caveats I would mention.

    1. The implications that the named experts are sacrosanct. (e.g. Dan Saffer's venn diagram has IA entirely inside UXD but Industrial design only 1/3 inside. This is either arbitrary or viewed from an odd or highly specific perspective. ID and IA are both partially within and outside of UXD.)

    2. The focus seems to shift quickly from UX being part of all product/service design to digital (and often only web based) design.

    3. In the 'Duality' slide, the umbrella of UX (being 'many things') is presented as a problem. It is merely a fact. To wit: a hospital encompasses many different medical treatment services. This is merely a descriptor and not a 'problem.'

    4. I personally love the phrase 'Traditional UX people' as if the UX professionals had been around as described for decades. Since UX professionals are basically anyone with expertise in two or (preferably) more of the areas under the UX umbrella (Human Factors, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Marketing, UI Design etc.) It is only recently (past decade) that the UX term has begun to be attributed to this concept of multidisciplinary expertise in two or more of these areas.

    5. I want to clarify that my examples from the presentation are randomly chosen and are by no means the only examples of each issue, nor are they the most egregious.

    6. In slide 35 for Fundamentals of UX Design, you left out 'Emotional'. You can't get more fundamental than that. This psychological component alone, is addressed, can make or break a product.
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  • Hit the nail on the Head :) !!
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  • Very nice presentation;-)
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Ux professionalism Ux professionalism Document Transcript

  • UX Professionalism Building tomorrows digital cathedralsNote: This is an abridged version of the history of architecture and the history of userexperience design, to fit into a 45 minute presentation.
  • The building industry remained unchangedfor 1000’s of years(In the most part) the building industry remained unchanged for 1000’s of years.
  • Unskilled labour gave wayto skilled artisansUnskilled labour gave way to skilled artisans.As buildings became more complex, practitioners began to specialise.
  • Modern city livingcreated ever more complexityModern city living created even more complexity.
  • As wood gave way to stoneMaster Masons rose to powerMedieval buildings were built by large teams of masons, under the guidance of a mastermason.The master mason was the most senior and experienced mason and would be in charge ofdirecting the other masons.To become a master mason you would have to apprentice under a master mason for manyyears before you were ready to work o your own.However rather than having a “grand plan” medieval cathedrals were architecturally a bit of amess, built in a very ad hoc way.
  • The renaissance heralded an age ofwealth, beauty and scientific knowledgeAnd masons started learning more about science and engineering.As well as study the building styles and techniques of ancient rome and greece.17th century Italian architect Francesco Borromini (considered by some as one of the firstprofessional architects) had a library of over 1,000 books.
  • Buildings rose in complexityBuildings rose in complexity and these buildings needed a new breed of designer.
  • Master masons became architectsand the field of Architecture was bornSo the master masons began to be overtaken by a new profession.Building designers like Sir Christopher Wren, who wanted to bring a more systematised andscientific approach to buildings.and so in the 17th and 18th century the modern field of architecture was born.It’s interesting to note that architect comes from the greek arkhi (cheif) and tekton (builder).It’s also worth pointing out that until modern times there wasn’t a distinction between architectand engineer.In fact “architects” weren’t part of any guild (unlike Masons) and were often only given theirtitles because of their writings.
  • Modern architectsco-ordinate the design processUltimately architects are hybrid designers bought in to co-ordinate the process of designing abuilding.They are also responsible for the vast majority of the built environment we live in today.With small projects, the architect may have enough skills to do the majority of the design workthemselves, handing over to an engineer to implement.Some design-build architecture firms will do it all, but they are often looked down on by theindustry as generalists.For big projects they need to rely on a team of people with different specialisms.
  • We see architects as a well defined professionbut modern architecture is multi-disciplinary Building  technologist Architectural  history Structural  engineer Planing  regula<ons Project  manager CAD Sustainability Materials  expert Quan<ty  surveying Concept  drawing Dra/ing Mechanical  engineer Construc<on  manager Design Urban  planning Accessibility Environmental    law Interior  design Planning  and  zoning Environmental  psychology Electrical  engineerAlthough for some reason we rarely see articles or online discussions forcing architects todefine exactly what architecture is.Possibly because we’ve all been born into a world of architects so assume that somebodyknows what it is they do.But in the mid 17th century, while there were many people calling themselves architects, theexact professional responsibility of the architect wasn’t precisely determined.And even today there is a lot of discussion around the philosophical aspects or architecture.
  • Architecture schools were createdto teach these specialismsArchitecture isn’t art, engineering or design, but a culmination of all three.As such, in order to manage standards and quality, professional organisations like thearchitectural association were formed in 1857.It was also necessary to create dedicated schools in order to teach such a specialised subject.
  • The history of web design is similarWe can see a similar evolution when we look at the profession of web design.
  • We started off as generalists Web  design Web  design Web  design Web  design Web  design Web  design Web  design Web  designThe industry started off mostly staffed by passionate hobbyists and generalists like myself.We all did a bit of visual design, a bit of HTML and a bit of CGI programming.
  • However as digital productsbecame more complicatedHowever 20 years later, the digital products we’re designing have become increasinglycomplicated.It was no longer possible for one person to retain all the knowledge and skills necessary todesign a large-scale digital product.
  • Many started to specialise Web  design Design  educa<on Responsive  design Mobile  gaming Accessibility User  Experience Web  design Icon  designMany of us started to specialise.
  • We undertook our own renaissanceWe undertook our own mini renaissance.As an active design profession we started to explore existing and related disciplines likeHuman Factors and HCI to help us understand how people could better interact with webtechnology.We also started to explore library sciences to understand how to manage and categorise largeamounts of information.These two fields slowly morphed into Usability, Interaction Design and Information Architecture.
  • Don Norman popularised the termUser Experience in the 90sDon Norman popularised the term user experience in the early 90s.The idea being that whenever we interact with a product or service it results in some kind ofexperience.This was an idea that encompassed traditional HCI thinking but also extended it, to cover allthe aspects of a product or service as perceived by it’s users.Of course you can’t actually design the way somebody experiences a product or service, and Ithink this is one of the big mistakes novices make when they get into UX design. However it ispossible to influence it in certain directions.In the late 90s, a group of largely west coast designers started to think about digital design in amuch more holistic fashion.And the field of user experience design was born.
  • Defining the dammed thingIf you go to UX conferences or follow any “UX people”, you may notice that there’s a habit oftrying to continuously define UX.This may give external observers or new entrants to the industry the idea UX isn’t a wellunderstood thing. That couldn’t be further from the truth.UX designers who have been in the industry for any length of time have a good understating oftheir practice.They’ve read the books and papers, attended the conferences, listened to the podcasts andexplained what they do to colleagues and clients a thousand times.However UX practitioners are very analytical and, in an emerging and constantly changingindustry, are constantly refining the way they present themselves to the world.So a lot of the discussion around “defining the dammed thing” is to inform new entrants to thefield, who read a smashing magazine article on usability testing once and now think that theyare user experience designers.I suspect the architecture world went through very similar thing and to this day you’d probablystruggle to get a room full or architects to define and agree to a thorough definition of thepractice, just as you would a group of UX designers.
  • The elements of user experienceIn 2000, Jesse James Garrett attempted to explain this growing field in a diagram (and later ashort book) entitled The Elements of User Experience.[explain diagram]It may seem like a very simplistic diagram, but it’s still the mental model that most userexperience practitioners have to this day.Now if you look at the process outlined, most digital teams already had somebody highlyexperienced in visual design, information design and possibly interface design, so this wasn’t anew role they needed to create.However only a few large organisations like the BBC had dedicated Information Architects andusability specialists. And even then, they tended to be few and far between.So for mid sized teams, somebody had to take on these roles. Sometimes it was the projectmanager, producer or BA. Sometimes the designers or developers. And if you were luckyenough to have a dedicated IA, they would end up finding themselves doing research, usabilitytesting and interaction design.It became increasingly difficult for these people to do the extra work that was now beingthrown at them, and still maintain their day job. So people started to specialise, and the namethey settled on was user experience design.
  • Dan Saffer’s UX diagramBack in 2006, Dan Saffer created this diagram in an attempt to outline the overlapping andcompeting elements that make up user experience design.As you can see from this (and many other diagrams) User Experience design encompassesusability, information architecture, communication design and interaction design.To be considered a user experience designer, you need to have a working knowledge of allthese fields, and depth in at least a couple.Similarly a user experience deign agency is made up of experts in these particular areas.He’s updated it since to encompass fields outside of digital design. Like engineering andarchitecture.Personally I’m not a fan of the inflation of user experience design to cover all forms of“experience”.We’ve got existing fields of practice like “service design” which covers this well.So I personally like to consider UX design purely as a form of digital design.
  • The duality of UX A job Specialised agency A field of practice The natural result of design The way people perceive a product/serviceSo one of the problems with user experience is that it’s not one thing, but multiple things.It’s the way people perceive a product as in “that was a terrible experience”.It’s also the natural output of the design process. So we started seeing a lot of regulardesigners changing their titles to “user experience design” because hey, I influence the userexperience also.UX design is a well understood field of practice that includes all the sub fields I previouslymentioned.It’s something that a specific department or agency can specialise in. Just as they couldspecialise in development of graphic design.It’s also a persons job. Typically defined as somebody that does a mix of research, usability,IA and interaction design. But typically not visual design.
  • Todays digital cathedralsAround 2006, UX started to become a recognised term and even a job title in the UK.By 2009 it was all the rage and seen as the hot new thing.Today UX designers are in big demand and and the vast majority of modern digital cathedralswill have been designer by UX designers.However this demand has caused a bit of a boom.
  • The UX Hype CycleAt the same time more traditional we designers started becoming familiar with the term andmany changed their names to UX designers (because there was demand and because it couldearn more money).The more committed ones even signed onto UX related courses like the ergonomics course atUCL.Suddenly the market was flooded by folks that didn’t have much experience in UX.Prices started shooting up while quality started dropping.So while companies were reaching the peak of inflated expectations, agencies like mine werehitting the trough of disillusionment.Many felt that UX had become a tainted term and started distancing themselves from the term.
  • Big design up frontThose of our industry who cut our teeth in the late 90s and early naughties had learnt their craftin large organisations with very formal processes.The old guard were super experienced but really stuck in their ways.Traditional UX people tend to be heavily weighted towards the IA and Usability side of thespectrum.The IA folks are incredibly analytical and ridged. They love drawing "boxes and arrows" andproducing reams and reason of documentation.This was perfect when designing very large, mission critical systems, but wasn’t necessarilyflexible enough to cope with the new products coming their way.I’ve worked with several old school, institutional UX people before. They are less architect andmore draftsperson.The usability folks weren’t any better. They were great an analysing problems, but many lackedthe Design abilities to come up with good solutions.
  • Lean UXSo in the last couple of years the start-up industry have been pushing back with lean UX andagile UX.They wanted to do away with all the rigidity and formality of their predecessors and use alightweight, informal process instead.This has some real benefits as you’re able to cut out a lot of the cruft and make improvementsquickly. Perfect for poorly funded projects.So why spend months doing research and creating stacks of wireframes, when a few quicksketches could do?This is a great sentiment, but isn’t without it’s problems.Lean and agile UX has put the tools and language in the hands of amateurs. And I think this islargely a good thing, as UX is a team problem.However without the experts to know which tools to use when, a lot of the solutions we’reseeing are far too shallow and misguided.So I’m seeing lots of start-ups trying to adopt so called “agile UX practices” without the benefitof an expert, and failing badly.So a lot of these lean UX people have a very shallow understanding of UX and don’t knowwhen they should and when they shouldn’t cut things out.This can lead to significant efficiency as they struggle to solve design problems that would be
  • The UX professionalI believe that we live in a world where both the old guard and new guard have a place.However I also believe there is a middle ground.The old pros need to adopt lighter weight practices while maintaining their deep knowledge anddisciplineThe new guard need to start to specialise and become more professional.Design is a targeted activity, but with the right skills in your team it’s possible to do the work ofsignificantly more people.
  • UX as a modern design professionIn his 1933 book, the professions, Carr Saunders stated that a profession has 5 aspects.• the foundation of a voluntary association• the exclusion of unqualified persons• a development of codes of conduct• a system of tests and examinations• and, finally, the control over relevant educational institutions
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the userMost organisations have somebody to represent the needs of the business, the needs of thetechnology department and the needs of sales and marketing. Rarely do they have anybodythat represents the needs of their customers and users. So in most situations, this will be yourjob.
  • Get out of the buildingGet out of the building.To do this you’re going to need to get out of the building and talk to real users.It may seem obvious and it may seem scary, but it’s very easy to do and doesn’t take a lot ofresource.We’re talking about a few days worth of user interviews. Maybe a usability test. Maybe a quickuser survey.Doesn’t take much to understand the user.The you can use techniques like user personas to help focus the organisation on their usersneeds
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the businessHowever we also need to be pragmatic.Some designers take being the voice of the user too far, and forget that in most instances theyare working for a business that also has needs, some of which may not always be served byunderstanding the needs of the user.
  • Talk to the businessSo you have to spend time getting to know the organisation and the individuals.That doesn’t mean that you’re always going to do what the business wants. But you do needto understand what that is.At the end of the day, UX design is about balancing these two needs.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm
  • Beware dark patterns
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics
  • Don’t forget the fundamentals of UX design.Usability. IA. Interaction design.If you don’t have these basics, none of the advanced still will be of much use.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job
  • Become tools expertsThe question isn’t, “which prototyping tool should I use?”You need to master as many tool as possible, understand the strangest and weaknesses ofeach, and know when to use them.So get to know Visio, Omnigraffle, Axure and even Balsamiq.However also make paper prototypes, try keynote, learn HTML/CSS and try video
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity.
  • Use the lowest fidelity tool you needThis is one of the fantastic learning from Agile.These design artefacts are essentially communication tools.Get to know the team and the organisation you were working with and present them with thelowest level fidelity required to communicate intent.If you’re co-located with an agile team, this could be a conversation round a whiteboard, apaper sketch or an “animatic” video demo.The less time you spend documenting, the more time you will be spent solving designproblems.However if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.So if you’re working with a very conservative organisation, the stakeholders may need to seehigh fidelity prototypes to fully understand what you’re proposing.Similarly with remote or inexperienced dev teams, you’ll probably find yourself doing a lot moredocumentation than you’d like.But this is part of your job.
  • Learn to... SketchLearn to sketch.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity. 7. Be open and transparent
  • Communication is a design problemFar too many designers want to spend all of their time designing.And far too many agencies only budget for the time it takes to create deliverables.However there’s no point crafting the perfect design if it never gets adopted.Organisation are a design problem themselves.Great designers understand this and use their people skills to make sure that the organisationunderstands what they have been designing and why.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity. 7. Be open and transparent 8. Work across disciplines
  • Production line thinkingIndustrial age thinking has encouraged us to do discreet and specialist tasks before passingthem on to the next person in the production line.This process is easier to manage but doesn’t take into count modern day knowledge work.
  • Cross functional pairingWe need to get more used to breaking out of our silos and working with other team members.One way to do this is through “cross functional pairing”.At the start of most of our project our UX designers and visual designers work together.This could be with the UX designer setting up and running interviews and the visual designertaking sketch notes.It could be the pair of them working together to sketch out a new process flow.Similarly our UX designers and front end developers will often work together prototypingsolutions.By working together they get to input their own skills and abilities.This is one way of encouraging interested designers and developers to contribute their UXknowledge without feeling that they have to become UX designers themselves.User experience is everybody’s responsibility and design is a team game.All designers should care about UX, but that doesn’t mean they’re user experience designer.All developers should care about UX, but that doesn’t mean they’re UX developers.On projects of a certain size, a dedicated User Experience professional is needed to co-ordinate these activities.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity. 7. Be open and transparent 8. Work across disciplines 9. Be a design facilitator
  • Good designers are facilitatorsDesign is no-longer about creative individuals coming up with their own solutions and imposingthem on a company or product.It’s about using your interpersonal skills to create environments and activities where the wholeteam can contribute their good ideas.Why have one mind working on the problem for a month when you can have 10 minds workingon the same problem for a day?It’s then your job to examine, sift, evaluate and hone these ideas into something of value.In most cases the solution will simply present itself once you’ve had time to assemble all thepieces.So I think the ability to run interviews and workshops is the most important skill a UX personcan have.This is a high level consultancy skill that most designers don’t feel comfortable leading.
  • Graphical facilitation
  • Graphical facilitation
  • Design games
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity. 7. Be open and transparent 8. Work across disciplines 9. Be a design facilitator 10. Strive for mastery
  • 10,000 HoursMalcom Gladwell looked at concert musicians and realised that to become a maestro youneeded around 10,000 hours of practice and experience before you stop analysing yourplaying and instead internalise it and do it naturally.He looked at other fields and it looked like many of them also required 10,000 hours of practiceand repetition to become competent. 10,000 hours works out roughly as 10 years of work.It’s important to note that this does need to be 10 years of unique experience, not one yearrepeated 10 times.However considering the general work hours we do in this industry, and the amount of stuffpeople do in their own time, really dedicated people can probably become experts in 5 years.
  • UX professional charter 1. Be the voice of the user 2. Respect the needs of the business 3. Do no harm 4. Dont forget the basics 5. Pick the right tool for the job 6. Theres no high or low fidelity, just correct fidelity. 7. Be open and transparent 8. Work across disciplines 9. Be a design facilitator 10. Strive for masteryMy 10 steps to becoming a true UX pro.These aren’t the only ones so I’m sure you can find plenty more.
  • @andybudd www.clearleft.comandy@clearleft.com