UX Design could go beyond a job title and be an opportunity to empower users in the fast growing digital era.
Despite the fact that the role of UX Design has existed since the dawn of digitalization, the term UX itself is relatively new and was previously recognized as information architecture or interface design. There might not be hundreds, but there are plenty different definitions of User Experience Design (UX) out there that explain the role of UX-Designers — and yet we usually struggle to explain our job to our family, friends, not to mention our senior acquaintances. We usually define UX Design as a problem-solving design that makes not only the digital products but any kind of product more intuitive and easy to use.
Just a few years ago, back in 2011, we still had a hard time convincing companies about the importance of UX Designers to build appealing and successful digital products. So perhaps it is not surprising that we have a hard time to explain our job to people around us with no tech background, especially since our responsibilities are often not clearly defined. Nonetheless, UXers all hopefully know what our job is about. But what about our accountabilities? –
As the name suggests our concern is to enable the users to interact easier and more fearless with technology without any frustration. But how can we stick to our mission: ‘’User Centered Design’’ without losing sight of the business considerations? What do we mean by the term” User Centered Design”? How many of us stick to this mission? Are we constantly thinking about problem-solving design from the user side and how to include more and not exclude people from using digital products or do we more often take the side of the business? How should we keep the balance?
Even though the term UX is still a new trend in the market, I totally agree with Jonathan Courtney the Co-founder of AJ & Smart Agency, when he sarcastically said in a recent article: “The Golden Age of UX is over.’’ He also said it’s not enough to understand the user, you need to understand the business. This too, is absolutely right. Nevertheless, I believe that since everything is getting digital around us and our dependency on technology is growing without pause, UX-Design today is more than a job title, it’s a position of social responsibility in a tech world. It’s there to empower more and more people to use digital products and technology.
We are responsible for enabling and including a different range of people regardless of their age, sex and ethnicity.
It is not far-fetched to think that in our fast-growing digital era, soon concepts of democracy, equality, and equal opportunity will have to adapt from previous definitions and understandings, as will other sociological concepts such as empowerment.
For instance; when it comes to designing a Digital Health Care Product we should really aim to empower more senior people, who may need this digital product more than anyone and consider to make the product as easy as possible for them, so that they’ll be able to use it easily and confidently.
Perhaps when we design an e-mail application that always requires a Login, we also have to think of people whose memory is failing them, so that they keep forgetting not only the passwords but also where they noted and hide their password. Therefore, they feel old and stupid when it comes to interacting with even simple technology like checking e-mails.
As designers we should keep in mind that the F-shape pattern of web reading is not necessarily applicable to all users such as Arabic or Persian speakers with right-to-left languages. Hence, the important components on the web should be in a flipped F-shaped pattern for them.
There is probably no better example of unanticipated consequences of expanding technology that does not focus on empowering users than the 5th episode of Black Mirror season 3 ‘’Men against fire’.’ In which humans have high-tech neural implants hunt their non-upgraded peers, who are not part of the society anymore. If we continue to exclude and ignore some people as digital users eventually we won’t be able to see them as more than primitive creatures who are incapable of catching up with technology and human dependency on it.
Thus, I believe that UX Design is not just a job title but a responsibility to uphold humanness and inclusion in a world of tech & digital. The prophecy of UX Designers is to improve life of users; that is why we are here.