The other day I was lucky enough to attend a screening of InVision’s fantastic new documentary; ‘Design Distruptors’. One of the main themes of the film is exploring the qualities of good designers. This got me thinking a lot about the way that UX is viewed in our industry.
I’ve often thought that ‘UX Designer’ can be a little misleading as a job title. When scouring job boards, the main requirements of the role are generally about crafting visuals, UI mock-ups and wireframes. Sure, these are incredibly important deliverables, but the design of a good user experience goes WAY beyond just this.
When talking about ‘design’, visual artefacts have somewhat hijacked the public’s thinking. If I tell someone I’m a designer, they’ll immediate assume I’m a Photoshop wizard or a CSS ninja.
In reality, anyone making decisions regarding the direction or development of a product is designing the user experience.
Crafting UI is important, sure — but that’s just the surface level. The design process also includes the agreement of business objectives. It includes the research and prioritisation of customer needs. It includes the scoping and definition of product requirements.
Even the management of the project can have a big impact on UX when you think about it. A good project manager will need to priotise different features when defining the project scope. These decisions will radically affect what gets produced.
Likewise, a developer will play a huge part in the design process. They’ll control factors such as speed, and the potential to easily add or change features. They’ll also be aware of front-end frameworks, design patterns and best practices that will affect the UI.
All of these people come together to craft an amazing end product.
Think of some of the most famous designers of our times. Henry Ford. James Dyson. Steve Jobs. These people weren’t producing design comps or layouts, but they sure as hell were making important design decisions. Decisions around business objectives, workflows and processes. These were arguably the biggest contributions to the great products they helped create.
I’m not discrediting the traditional responsibilities of UX Designers (hell, it’s what I’ve built my career on!). Wireframes, designs and prototypes are a huge area of design. But these things are part of a bigger picture.
We need to remind everyone that UX Design is broad discipline that basically any project role can contribute to.
Work closely with developers, project managers, clients and everyone else on your project team. Empower them, and help them to realize that they’re also contributing to the UX.