Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Jan 2018

Misplaced Perceptions of User Experience

There are many organizations, upon hearing the term “user experience” land on the perception of “finally getting a pleasing product in front of people.” And while the hope is indeed a correct one, the perception of the user experience professional to handle (and be adept) at everything from application development, to marketing, to organizational strategy, to project/product management is one where expectations end up having many fall short of those perceptions - UX eventually finding itself in the bucket of “things we wish we did well but don’t have the time/budget for.”

There’s no need to wonder why that perception goes awry. User experience has too often fallen upon the eyes-only facet of a product’s experience. Does it look “good” to me? Does it follow what “I” understand as what “my” customers need?

Instead, UX ends up being filtered though - and therefore product-fit - out of the inputs of those who build and sell. This shouldn’t be the case. UX done well speaks - emphatically - for the best needs of those who are using the system/services/product. Think of why people use services like Wix - its not that building a website isn’t needed, but the friction for doing so is so much that a well-designed tool fits the perception better - even if that perception means a plateauing of the (perceived) quality of websites.

In order to not misplace one’s perception (with UX and most else), there’s a bit of a reset which needs to happen within industries and those who work in them. Admonish the business for doing the part of getting a product in front of folks (yes). Encourage the techincal components to develop and mature further, wider, and deeper (of course). But don’t lose the equal weight which is to be given to those who use and consume. It should be their ease of use; their lack of unnecessary friction; their security and flexibility to choose which makes your product(s) stand forward. Only then can you say you are stretching towards a positive user experience; and in saying so actually build that which will land in the right places on one’s balance sheet.