Thoughts on UX Design

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Killer UX Design by Jodie Moule. This book goes over the basics of a user-focused design process, explaining some methods and practices to ensure user experience (UX) stays paramount throughout the discovery, concept, and delivery phase of a project. It really got me thinking of why this is even a problem, why lengthy processes need to be built to ensure that products are usable and focused.

It all boils down to developers and engineers, the people building the applications. There are several trains of thought within psychology that humans are by nature selfish, at least on a subconscious level. Even if our selfishness is not reflected in our day-to-day interactions with others it does help with self-preservation and, more relevant, world views. So when a developer is building a new website or application they tend to lean towards their own biases and ideals instead of meeting client or user expectations.

Developers are not the only people to do this. Insurance companies try to force their customers to understand their language and point of view on coverage policies and rates. Wine connoisseurs use a myriad of phrases specific to the industry to describe a good-tasting drink. We frame our thinking to make sense to us and our community - and for web developers that means a language of code, technical terms, and processes - and in doing so alienate clients and create poor user experiences with our products.

That's why I found this book on UX design so interesting. The processes Jodie utilizes are industry-specific but the primary goal is to understand and communicate across boundaries. And they are intensive. In order to break out of our personal bubbles and biases a great amount of work needs to be done with the audience and stakeholders. Environmental research, extracting customer insights, and iterative testing, all with the intent to facilitate better communication and understanding of a problem that, in turn, will result in a product that fits the end user needs and expectations.

Now, that's not to say that developers are completely hopeless without a full team of UX experts to guide them along the project. While they are capable of thinking in terms of user experience and audience it may just not be their strong suit. Also, in my experience, web developers who are really good at building sites and applications prefer to be doing just that and not worrying about project management or the end-user. UX is one of the most important pieces of a technical project, and one that shouldn't be overlooked if you want to provide a product that people actually find useful.