On tulips & hubris: is UX a bubble?

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User experience (UX) is booming: employment, salaries, and the profile of the profession are all on the rise. But are we losing sight of what really matters?

Drawing parallels between the current boom in UX, Dutch tulip mania and Ireland's recent property boom, Morgan argues that UX is showing bubble-like properties, and that it needs to refocus on value and delivering meaningful results to business to remain relevant.
From the UX Masterclass, Johannesburg, March 2012

Published in: Technology, Business
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  • Well said! There are two potential problems with UX today (from a UX recruiter's point of view):

    1) Companies want to hire people to make their firm the next Apple. 'Thought leaders', 'Concept gurus' etc etc. Nothing tangible or measureable. It’s an anstract and subjective notion of quality, often, sadly, stemming from what looks cool.
    2) Some candidates can be at a loss as to how they help and add value to their employer's products. You made something look nicer? Great, what effect did that have? a: people said it looks nice. You make some thing more usable? Great, how do you do that, what effect did it have? Employers are looking for ROI, UCD has to feed through to measureable and tangible benefits or how can UX designers justify their salaries?

    The market is evolving fast. Having 'Information Architect' as a job title on a CV is no longer enough to secure an interview. Portfolios can no longer be pictures of final websites or mobile apps. Candidates have to be able to communicate their ability, experience, and value in a way that a company can see it being used to their benefit.

    If anyone is looking for tips on how to sell themselves in this competitive market, or how to structure a portfolio, feel free to email Sean Pook at IC Creative.
    sean@ic-creative.co.uk
    www.ic-creative.co.uk
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  • Read the accompanying blog post 'Sticking out in Africa at the UX Masterclass' at http://bit.ly/Hu1xCY
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  • \n
  • Title: Build it & they will come\n
  • Title: Nuts for tulips: 1636 - 1637\n
  • First published in 1841\n
  • What you could get for a viceroy tulip. 1637 - Viceroy tulip cost between 3000 & 4200 guilder - at the time, skilled crafts people earned about 300 guilders a year: so tulips were changing hands for between 10-14 times the average industrial wage.\nProsperity - East Indies, Dutch Golden Age, booming commerce\nUnique nature of the flower - unusual, rare “saturated, intense petal color that no other plant exhibited.”\nBecame a desirable luxury commodity\nLimited supply - cannot be produced quickly\nLimited tradiing period - bloom only for a week in April & May for about a week- dormant from June to September - the trading season\nOutside of that period, people were buying contracts for bulbs, rather than bulbs themsleves - so becam like a highly spohisticated futures market - like contracts for difference - not buying the actual shares - just borrowing them (thins also did for Anglo) - no tulips actually changing hands\nPrices soared\nSoaring prices dragged in more speculators, fueling the boom\nPrices reached their peak during the winter of 1636-37, when some bulbs were reportedly changing hands ten times in a day.\n\n
  • Title: 360 years later, to the west.....\n
  • Title: Party on!\n
  • Title: Our fetish was apartments - good looking, laughing, living the box-room dream.....\n\n
  • Walford: sold for €58 mill in 2005 - cheap at half the price.\n
  • 7seconds until 48 seconds\none year later, in 2006, one of the chief architects of the doom, explains our success on bloomberg\ndemographics\nimmigration\nlegislation\nlow interest rates\n
  • Title: Will it, must it, end in tears? \n\nWell it did for tulips & for houses\n\nTulip prices collapsed in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt.\n\nIrish house prices peaked in 2006; and have steadily collapsed ever since - now are between 60& 75% off their peak, depnding which survey you look at. \nWalford - bought for 58mill in 2005; sold in 2011 for 15mill\nIrish Glass Bottle site: bought for 412 mill in 2006 ; valued in 2012 at 60million\n
  • February 1637, auction of tulips in Haarlem; no buyers turned up.\nBubonic plague\nWhile this may have been the result of the fact that Haarlem was then at the height of an outbreak of bubonic plague, within days panic had spread across the country\nwithin days panic had spread across the country. Despite the efforts of traders to prop up demand, the market for tulips evaporated.\nFlowers that had commanded 5,000 guilders a few weeks before now fetched one-hundredth that amount.\n
  • September 2008-Jan 2009: all our major banking institutions collapse\nThe darling of the boom - Anglo - needs up to 40b in \n\nPeople’s explanations - poor leadership, greedy bankers, excessive lending, low interest rates, poor regulation hubris & excess\n
  • September 2008-Jan 2009: all our major banking institutions collapse\nThe darling of the boom - Anglo - needs up to 40b in \n\nPeople’s explanations - poor leadership, greedy bankers, excessive lending, low interest rates, poor regulation hubris & excess\n
  • My explanation: the fundamentals caught up with us - we had flown too far from value\n
  • My explanation: the fundamentals caught up with us - we had flown too far from value\n
  • Title: Inflationary chatter\n
  • Title: inflationary chatter\n
  • Title: Flight from value, rockstar mentality\n
  • UPA 2011 salary survey - $90k, up 7% on 2009\n
  • Title: Whining & navel-gazing\n
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  • Inflated sense of importance\n
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  • Nobody understands us\n
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  • Holier than thou\nAddressing the most pressing problems, whether design or not\nSales; self-service\n
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  • Title: Irish patient recovering? Source: Financial Times, August 16th, 2011\n\nThe Helm’s deep moment: turning of the tide\n
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  • On tulips & hubris: is UX a bubble?

    1. 1. On tulips & hubris: is UX a bubble?Morgan McKeagney UX MasterclassiQ Content Johannesburg, South Africawww.iqcontent.com 30 March, 2012@morganmckmorgan@iqcontent.com
    2. 2. Build it and they will come.
    3. 3. The “expert” opinionhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdREFJnNa2M&feature=player_embedded#!
    4. 4. Right. But what’s all this got to do with UX?
    5. 5. Source: Lanyard.com, 12th September 2011
    6. 6. Explosion in UX jobs & salaries
    7. 7. IA? iXD? UX?content strategist?
    8. 8. Misinterpreted Jobs Effect: Design Fethisism*
    9. 9. FlowCooper FjordiQContent
    10. 10. Losing sight of what really matters?
    11. 11. “Make my lifesimpler & better”
    12. 12. “I have $10. Where do I put it?”
    13. 13. Six imperatives.....  UX as a strategic weapon: high6 performance through insight & design  Results & problem-solving focus: sales, conversion, cost deflection  Move beyond reports: become problem- solvers, makers & doers  It takes all sorts: embracing technology & multidisciplinary teams  Getting serious about data: insight, reporting, ROI
    14. 14. “The strategic sweet spot of a company is where it meets customers’ needs in a way that rivals can’t, given the context in which it competes.” Differentiation through design, innovation and execution.Source: “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?”,David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad,Harvard Business Review, April 2008
    15. 15. 3 1 Execution Insight 2 DesignBeyond design: a simple framework
    16. 16. Problem: 68% of our calls go unanswered Insight: 50% of calls relate to driving test
    17. 17. Strategy:Facilitate self-service & reduce calls throughexemplary content & designImpact:76% reduction in driver-test related queries inMonth 1.
    18. 18. Problem: our plans are too complex Insight: We need to faciliate comparisons
    19. 19. Strategy:Simplify product choices to eliminate confusion;streamline the purchasing funnel to driveconversionsImpact:888% increase in online sales in Month 1.
    20. 20. How much money are we making or saving for our clients?
    21. 21. Evolution: from report writersEvolution / Fidelity of Deliverables to makers and doers prototypes & applications visual design, content & html wireframes report Time
    22. 22. ++
    23. 23. MyWay: Transforming multichannel interactions
    24. 24. 1+1=11
    25. 25. Design is strategy, strategy is UX.
    26. 26. Content is UX, content is design, content is strategy.
    27. 27. Visual design is UX, visual design is strategy.
    28. 28. Coding, testing & QA is UX
    29. 29. Data & analytics is UX,data is strategy & design
    30. 30. It’s all interconnected...boundaries are arbitrary & create problems
    31. 31. UX is Dead; Long Live UX.
    32. 32. Back, briefly, to tulips...
    33. 33. ...and the Irish patient.
    34. 34. Nothing can have valuewithout being an object ofutility. If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it.
    35. 35. Thanks! Have fun!Morgan McKeagneyiQ Contentwww.iqcontent.com@morganmckmorgan@iqcontent.com

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