I’m on my way to the smashing conference, ready to meet with 3 other colleagues (2 dev and 1 UX dev) and find my self contemplating about what to expect from this conference. I think it’s important for me to be forthright about something. I dislike the term UX. It’s fluffy. Misinterpreted. A buzz word used by everyone which means the term, specialisation and professionalism that usually comes with some roles has been tainted by mediocre professionals and misinformed managers/directors who write the job descriptions.
Changing my opinion is going to be next to impossible however I hope to get some clarity on the true origins of the UX role. We all know that there a range of tools out there to help create an amazing User Experience such as focus groups, personas, user testing, guerrilla testing, beta versions etc but I feel as if following a process such as this to the letter doesn’t make for a good development team but more like a personal assistant. Yes you are more likely to provide a product that your client and users will like but I’m not sure the extra work creates value for money.
I shall pluck some numbers out of the air for you to illustrate my meaning. Would you, as a client or institution, like a website that provides 95% satisfaction and took 150 days to gather requirements, design develop, test and rollout. Or would would you prefer 90% satisfaction that took 120 days? How would you spend those extra 30 days? To ensure that as a team you can deliver efficiency, I would prefer to use those 30 days to use in 12 months time for enhancements to that same website. The web moves too fast meaning that a more agile approach to is needed. UX discovery is a part of the development process but we should not underestimate our experiences and I don’t fear the risk of assumptions as many others do. Assumptions based on experience can go wrong, yes, but find good member of staff and those assumptions can create efficiencies. It’s about trust in your fellow professionals and trust in yourself with a calculated risk.
And no Big Bang. Incremental rollout is always best. Get something sensible rolled out based on skill, small amount of user research for clarity and then iterate. We are the professionals and the term UX and the tasks associated with creating a good UX has created a situation where the users hold a huge amount of power. Often that power results in comfort and not innovation. And not necessarily what they truely want or need. I would not be surprised if Apple did user research before the iPhone was released and they all said they needed a physical keyboard. Nowadays the whole notion of a physical keyboard is laughable, and Blackberry are paying the price.
Am I the only one who thinks like this? Let’s find out…