State of UX in 2019
For a long time, designers have been protective about their process. Being a designer meant being part of a secret, sacred group. Building mystery around the creative process has made us seem uniquely valuable for the people who would hire us. Not anymore. It’s about time we embrace a more open approach to the way we design.
In the early 2000s, reviewing recently launched websites created by another designer or firm brought about a mix of admiration and magic. As soon as a new product went live, designers and developers would inspect the code to understand how they accomplished that feat. They would pause dribbble animations frame by frame to study which parts were moving, and how.
Fast forward to 2018 and we’re doing a much better job at sharing our process:
- Every week, hundreds of articles are published on Medium, written by designers who are unafraid of sharing their process with the world;
- Case studies have become more reflective of failures, instead of focusing only on successes;
- Designers on Instagram have started to post Stories that reveal a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of beautiful interfaces and animations;
- Corporate design blogs are sharing backstage photos of their process (primarily comprised of sticky notes on a wall — but still);
- Behance has recently started to livestream designers solving design challenges, big and small, to a broad audience of aspiring designers.
Modern restaurants started to embrace the open kitchen model once they realized customers were not only interested in purchasing the food that they had to offer, but were also craving a more holistic experience of dining. And they saw that people were willing to pay extra money for that experience. Customers value the craft much more once they see what it takes to create high-quality dishes at lightning speed.
The same open-kitchen model has started to permeate the design industry as well.
Our employers and clients are buying way more than our technical skills. They are buying our authenticity, our transparency, our openness, our ability to collaborate with our peers, our ability to recover from failures. This transformation in the way companies buy design is making designers realize they are selling a process, not a deliverable.
Increased openness about our design process has benefits for the designer, for the design community, and for society at large. Democratizing access to knowledge, tools, and methods will generally enable more designers to execute design — which means a bigger impact of our craft in everyone’s live.. Participating in design and in the design community should not require any type of membership, and should not be hidden under a paywall. You shouldn’t have to have any kind of membership to participate in the design discussion.
We must proceed with caution as we open our process to more people as it will be tempting to get swept away by “likes” and “claps.” We can lean on two guiding questions as we embark on this new territory: 1) How do we avoid creating a culture of celebrity chefs in design? 2) What can we learn about sharing work in an open-source and collaborative way (GitHub and the development community have some good ideas)?
Starting in 2019 we will see designers sharing their process more often — and the gap between doing the work and sharing it with the world will shrink exponentially. Demonstrating our authenticity and sharing our experience will be worth way more than positioning ourselves as magicians that are secretly concocting sly tricks.