“It wasn’t surprising. I think it’s just a reality for people who work in digital marketing or design.
“We know that these content types are very effective, and it’s understandable. When Adobe does a product tutorial, for example, it makes a lot of sense and we need that content. There is a new generation of designers out there that needs to learn the basics and about what’s interesting in the industry. This short content fits them better, and there is space for that,” Caio said.
“But I just feel like we are treating our readers just as we’re treating our consumers. I think we are underestimating their analytical thinking skills, so I think there is a big opportunity for something more in depth that resonates to them and their needs.”
The dangers of not correcting course
We’ll get to that big opportunity in a minute, but first, Adobe’s own principal designer has a few thoughts on the big risk of not changing our approach.
Khoi Vinh has spoken out publicly about the danger facing the state of UX design if it doesn’t provide more critical content. In an article for Fast Company, he wrote about the bigger questions that UX journalism is avoiding — a lack of discourse on what design means in the world, and whether it is actually contributing to the greater good.
“It’s here that those questions about design’s larger meaning in our society and culture go unasked. Amid all the focus on clicks, no one bothers to wonder: Is what was designed actually in the long-term interests of its users? Does it model healthy or unhealthy interactions and behaviors? Does it strengthen the long-term relationship between the brand and its customers? How does it contribute to the way people relate to technology, media, and to one another? Is the design aesthetically good or bad? And why?” said Khoi.
It was this article that partly inspired Fabricio and Caio to take this deeper look into why this kind of content is mostly missing from the landscape. “When we read Khoi’s article, it all suddenly clicked. What we’ve been feeling and thinking about for years had been finally put into very well-articulated words,” said Fabricio.
Khoi also points to the example of architecture for inspiration on how UX discourse can improve. Why does the field of architecture have a thriving dialogue on the good, bad, and ugly in the industry, but not UX design? And how far has architecture been pushed, in positive directions, because its stakeholders weren’t afraid to criticize each other’s work and discuss its impact on the bigger world around us?
“As design matures, we need this self-assessment to know where we’re heading and the challenges we’ve had in this ever-changing industry. We need to view it in a way that’s sustainable for us and our careers and those that are affected by our work,” said Caio. He shares Khoi’s sentiment that if UX designers can’t open up to the outside world and discuss the positive and negative aspects of their industry, they can’t expect UX design to retain its importance.
In short, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy convincing companies, organizations, and user bases to take design very seriously. Now, we need to prove it’s serious about advancement and the betterment of the world.
Opportunity and the responsibility of the reader
The fault doesn’t lie entirely with content creators, according to Khoi. UX designers themselves need to approach UX journalism in a different way to help create meaningful change in the industry. Designers should ask themselves when they read an article, blog post, or list, whether it challenged their assumptions or opened them to new ideas.