We've said it once, and we'll say it again, user experience design doesn't exist. This term simply does not make much sense to us. So it's no surprise that this comment from a fellow designer on the blog post from Tuesday caught our eye:
Whitney's article titled You're Not A User Experience Designer If ... drills into the heart of our argument of what actually goes into the field of User Experience Design: graphic design, psychology, communication design, user research, sociology, usability and much much more. To say that you are an 'expert in user experience design' is to say that you are an expert in most of these fields. So you can see why ZURBians tend to give someone the eye when they hear 'I'm a UX Designer' from people. It's tough to figure which part of the practice they actually belong to.
Whitney's article centers on the graphic design field within the user experience umbrella, specifically what makes up a great graphic designer. She outlines 10 great questions that help weed out designers who simply craft and push pixels around without having a clear idea why they are doing so. Three of the points hit close to home, so we decided to show some real life examples of them in this post:
- You Don't Talk to Users
If you design entirely based on intuition without ever gathering intel from a single human being who might at some point in their life come into contact with your business, I'm sorry, but you just aren't a user experience designer.
Example: Over the years, we've seen many startups turn a deaf ear to their users. Remember software startup Devver? Don't worry if you haven't. Devver crashed and burned in 2010 after two years in operation. Co-founder Ben Brinckerhoff blames the failure partly on their hesitation to get feedback from their customers. The focus was on the product, not their customers.
- You can't ID your target audience
If asked who your site is intended for and you say anyone and everyone, you are wrong. If a product is designed for everyone, it works for no one.
Example: This actually happened to Josh Levy and Ross Cohen, BeenVerified's co-founders. They burned through $550,000 in funding without getting a single customer. That's because they spent years developing a product that didn't have a market. Then there's Eric Reis. He spent six months building a product that nobody wanted to use.
- You don't define the problem
If your boss tells you what to build and you don't start the project by first determining why ' the specific pain point that people are currently experiencing that your product aims to eliminate ' you're a lackey, not a user advocate.
Example: Simon Sinek tackled this issue in his book "The Power of Why." Most designers tell others the ins and outs of their products then expect them to pay for it. That doesn't work. Simon says every inspiring leader — from Martin Luther King Jr. to companies like Apple — all talk and think the same. They ask "Why" first.
Hopefully these questions and examples have motivated you to ask "Why." Everyday I meet a designer who is simply doing what she or he is told by the client without challenging the assumptions. Asking "Why" and having customer validation not only makes you a stronger designer but gives you a reason to do what you do (besides money). It helps you understand how the product you're designing will be used by customers.
Whitney has seven other amazing questions in her article, make sure to check them out. Everyone who is designing anything should be asking these questions. We'd love to hear if you have any questions of your own to add to the list. Give us a shout in the comments.