It goes without saying that for the most part, user experience and the founding principles of design underpin everything we do. Why? Well we think our clients, our partners, and general users all around the world deserve a better end-user experience.
In all our experience designing for the digital medium, we’ve come to believe that it is far more important to give utility and purpose to “intention” than it is to apply standards and conventions to “outcomes”.
As designers and engineers, we feel a necessary obligation to ensure that what we create not only meets the expectations of the end-user, but also fulfills their intent. But the concept of intent is only relative when the ability to understand form and function give way to the fundamental concept of perception and the process of attaining awareness. And there in-lies the paradox.
For the first time in the history of the digital-age, the intention of end-users has in some ways become completely arbitrary, and in others completely systematic – so where do we go from here? how can we design for all users without compromising a very abstract status quo? The answer is in simplicity and breaking down complex barriers between interaction and information while driving all intent in a single direction. Some would argue that this is impossible to achieve given the current state of communication and the saturation of information – but what is over looked time and time again is the responsibility of the designer and the value placed on design. Afterall design drives innovation not only from a creators perspective, but it also influences change amongst a greater audience.
For too long, the standard practice for information design has been to organise content in a way that offers the end-user a number of different choices all at once without really understanding the end-users intention, only assuming it. This might be useful if you were browsing the aisles of your local supermarket, but in a similar fashion, if your intention is specific, your shopping experience can quickly turn into a headache.
The rise of UX (and the UX’pert)
User centered design and Information Architecture now take second and third position next to the sudden domination and rise of User Experience aka UX. From a designers point of view, the notion of UX has always been a fundamental part of the design process. Anyone with a traditional background in design theory and design application will understand that design is more about understanding the value it brings to not only the end-user but also the brand, message or communication – Design is not merely an aesthetic consideration, its understanding the fundamental nature of why something should exist in the first place. If something is to exist, if measures are being made to create something unique or new, then how and why should it exist, how will it function, what should it communicate, should it be sympathetic, should it make things easier, should it be original, practical, passive?
In my experience, good designers are good observers and good problem solvers, and can take a complex problem or an abstract concept and simplify it in a way that is easy to understand or easy to comprehend. The idea of UX is very similar – UX is about defining how a user will interact with (in our case) technology.
As a designer, working with UX’perts can be difficult at times because as we’ve seen in the past few years, the digital (in particular the mobile) space has become increasingly homogenised to some degree. Being a creative individual, I’m always looking to re-interpret and re-invent based on past experiences and learning’s. However I find that the evolution of a UX’pert is predominately formed from the demise of the Information Architect, a role that concerns itself primarily with layout and the order in which information should be (or assumed to be) acquired by the end-user ie web 2.0.
So should UX’perts be given more credibility over the designer? In my experience (and opinion) one good designer can do more, think more, and create more than 10 UX’perts combined – on the basis that they not only have a more acute understanding of form, function and utility, but offer a perspective that is creative rather than standard or conventional (whereby convention is perceived as right).
Don’t get me wrong, the crux of this argument is based around the comparison of “one good designer”, and as many of you are aware, the number of mediocre designers that have hindered / hampered the evolution of design in the digital space over the past 10 years is growing exponentially. You could easily argue that one really good UX’pert could do more in a day than 10 average designers in a month – especially if the designer is unmotivated or un-inspired – which is often the case in alot of commercial design companies (when I say design companies I mean companies that offer design as a service but rarely appreciate the value).
So being an advocate of the end-user experience is probably more important than just listening to what the clients wants / needs / demands, or applying the pre-conception of what is perceived to be usable – its more about understanding the intention of the user and appreciating the processes required to design and tailor a user experience necessary to meet those requirements.