People were creating awesome stuff way before we online product people tried defining this as "user experience design."' Just look back at Henry Dreyfuss' Bell Telephone
from the 1940s or jump ahead to OXO's angled measuring cup
today. They did it by sharing a vision relentlessly centered on providing value to the people they'd serve. They paid close attention to the details both their customers outside their company and their employees within it felt. And they did it by Designing their goods and services with a capital "D."
But we lost our way in software. We're trying to wander back under the banner of "user experience,"' but that's bound to let us down. It ignores our rich history and blinds us from the real effort we need: getting everybody on our team designing for people.
Chris' post yesterday
reminded me that Bill Buxton argues that sketching, both in concept and in practice, is absolutely fundamental to entire organizations that design great things for people. A critical insight most miss is that design cannot be for designers alone, it's the responsibility of your entire team.
If you think a designer or a UX expert will solve all your problems, you're screwed. What "UX"' has to imply is a fundamental shift in your organization's thinking and practice. It starts with you and your passion for design, but then has to extend to the others on your team through simple, approachable design techniques like sketching. This will empower them to get the job done.
Getting this right has been called design management
since the 1960s, not user experience.
Do you need Design experts? Yes, of course. You need whip smart specialists in teams throughout your organization, but these people need a shared vision and a common language. Put your designers in their own "UX Design"' silo and you'll frustrate the hell out of them and end up feeling your organization somehow adds up to less than the sum of its parts. The differences between organizations that figure this out and those that don't are stark.
How does a site like Quora succeed at so many details that their content--smart questions with answers by experts--and interactions seem so much richer and more valuable than Yahoo's? This comes down to a strong shared vision and cross-disciplinary collaboration by Quora's team, whereas Yahoo's team suffered from slower, less effective communication and experienced less ownership over a collective vision.