Monday, December 20th, 2010

User Experience, or ‘UX’ as it’s commonly shortened to, is how a person uses and experiences an interface. This is just part of design. Whether it’s designing a website, application or a physical product, the user experience should be the sole motivator for direction and decisions.

Now, to the title point in-quesition… I’ve been seeing for quite a while now, web developers and designers listing ‘UX’ as skill, next to design, development, illustration etc. This bothers me. Why should the experience a user has be a separate skill? Surely if your a web/app designer, the user experience is one of, if not, the most important thing. Not to just make things look attractive. Not to just stick content on pages. Not to just make it function. Interaction design is all about creating a good experience for the end user, and if it isn’t, then it’s simply not good design. My point is, there’s no reason to separate ‘UX’ from the design process. You wouldn’t separate ‘Planning’ from designing. Or ‘Deciding which pen to use’ for illustration. So why bother with UX?

“Does any UX job not require coding and designing skills? is this a purely analytical field?”

I recently saw a question from a user on a Q&A site, and it shocked me a bit. Firstly, this person really shouldn’t be looking for a job in UX consultancy if they’re 1. not experienced in design or build, 2. doesn’t understand enough about it all to know that a UX role doesn’t have to include design and build. It initially seems odd that someone like this would be potentially looking for paid work i this field. I suspect many people see it as a superflorious add-on like ‘SEO’, or ‘Page size optimisation’. I think a lot of people suspect it’s easy money, but probably don’t realise what a dedicated UX professional does for a living…

I’m not saying there aren’t ‘UX professionals’ in the world, as there are, and the best do a damn good job. I just think many people just whack it on a C.V or site as an extra, without really understanding what it means. Maybe ‘m being pedantic, but if you wanted to list UX as a skill/service, it should be as ‘UX consulting’, as that’s something which stands on it’s own two feet. And something probably most of these people couldn’t do well as a client service.
To summarise. Don’t list UX as a skill unless you offer it as a dedicated service. Otherwise, it’s just part of design.