No kid dreams that when they’ll grow up, they’ll be a UX designer. Fine. I get it. No heroes here…But Did you know that out of the top 10 grown up jobs children dream about having, movie star, professional athlete, and musician are in the top 10. Number one is a doctor. Number 15? Superhero.
You know what isn’t on that list? UX Designer. That’s probably because, “The Adventures of Lana and her Quest for Transparent Design,” hasn’t been green-lit yet. And lets face it, no amount of Instagram posts or TikTok dancing videos about Product Design isn’t gonna make UX the next rush to Hollywood.
But like 70% of the world’s agriculture depending exclusively on the humble bee, And fungus being the worlds recyclers, UX Design methods play a vital role in solving real problems, for real people. As we advance, we’re gonna need to have a serious conversation as to how to promote design methods to dinner table conversation.
The state of our future just might depend on it.
So what is UX Design?
Let me get there in a roundabout way.
Everything is designed. For me, holistically, design always been more of a zen-lifestyle exercise. I practice daily by making an omelette, cleaning out my closet, or writing, sampling, arranging a track of music.
It’s a steady focus that I’m always chasing. There’s a perfect moment that happens when you’re “in the zone”, where you see everything clearly, and you’re effortlessly focused, there’s only one path, and you’re on it — time seems to slow down, and you don’t have to think about what you’re doing.
Your instruments become an extension of you.That’s what I’m passionately chasing.
I think the parallel between that, and using technology is that when it works right, is you don’t even know it’s doing anything at all.
That being said — User Experience Design is the process of deeply understanding the users objectives and goals when using a designed system. and making that system work towards its specific goal with as seamless and pleasant of an experience possible for the user.
UX is fluid and adapts to changing user needs.
No one thinks about blinking until they have something in their eye.
You know when I notice my phone? When it’s not working right, that’s a good thing. Someone’s doing something right.
How We Communicate
What if I told you that Designers were the leading the fight against evildoers and protecting the free world, democracy and all that is good? Would that excite you?
Well, If you wore your underwear on the outside of your pants and carried around weapons saying you’re here to protect the innocent, well… I’d probably ask what facebook groups you’re into. But understanding the Hero’s Journey on a holistic level can led to a deeply meaningful understanding of another’s experience and empathize with their perspective through an archetypal story.
Why Understand Someone Else?
As a society, we lack empathy
Its true. We’re also ageist and we use our current platforms of communication to dismiss and undermine our parents generation as out of touch and delaying social progress, and lets face it, they are and do. But as global pandemic that targets that older generation unfolded, we treated them like they’re the crisis, when they dismissed wearing masks and taking it seriously. We handled it by communicating through a trending a hashtag Ok Boomer and Boomer Remover.
We should be focusing on keeping our elderly happy, healthy, educated and out of harms way. We’re fighting for the equal treatment of everyone in our society, but at the same time, we depersonalize and dehumanize our parents.
That’s our fault.
The average American Facebook user over the age of 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as those aged between 18 and 29.
Where do you think they got this information?
We designed negative reward systems to drive interaction and hook users. Likes, dislikes and comments have become toxic forms of validation. We’ve extorted social credibility to gain trust, and yet we’ve not given our parents the tools to exist in the digital landscape we created. Because of this, they have completely reshaped our culture and our collective view of the world.
Guess what else? We designed these systems for our generation and not them.
Besides reading and disseminating fake news, this older generation has their own set of needs that can be achieved with technology, and poor design robs them of those benefits.
That’s bad business.
That is a big market to address.
Pulling When You Should Push
Imagine you’re sitting in a hotel lobby and you see a business person in an expensive suit approach the front door. He pushes on it; nothing happens. He pushes harder, grunting — until finally he realizes that he has to pull to open it. He does so and walks through, looking sheepish. From your perch in the lobby, you might, if you’re anything like me, chuckle a little to yourself and turn back to your newspaper. But wait — now another business person in a sharp suit comes up to the same door. Once again, she struggles mightily before figuring out how to work it. Hmmm you might think to yourself, Businesspeople aren’t very bright. Now imagine sitting in that same lobby every day for a week and witnessing the same struggle every time anyone tries to use that door. At a certain point, you’d have to stop blaming the people involved. You would have to surmise, Gee there is something strange going on with that door! pp12 the Longevity Economy Joseph Caughlin
Post-Pandemic Post-Truth Design
The pandemic has changed how people interact with their friends, family members, and co-workers. They’re inside most of the time and they’re online reading and sharing misinformation disinformation campaigns. This is a very complex problem to solve for, more than likely without one specific answer and it affects everyone, Here’s a guess at a diverse range of things we all need to do to battle the noise.
Here and Now.
There needs to be accountably.
On both sides, the individuals sharing misinformation, and the platforms that don’t make proactive changes and design for transparency.
Use empathy when uncle Tom shares harmful piece of misinformation.
Instead of berating them, try to remember that what people say in a retweet is often different from what they do in real life. Design tools to filter content to make users aware of what is fake, or give multiple points of view.
Looking to shaping the future.
Teaching future generations critical thinking as hope and why UX designers should be talked about in the same conversation as a superhero.
Lets cherry pick a few pieces of the UX Research and design process and think about how all this applies.
Thinking is Critical
Critical thinking skills go far in basic daily functions, like calling bullshit on someone who’s full of shit, or thinking about if and idea is good or bad. You will make more objective decisions and think about the the most lean way to get from A to B. But we also can’t leave that up to human error — so again design for transparency.
Research to make better decisions
Teaching research methods so we all have the tools to set up the framework that best works for us. Give us each the generative and evaluative tools to approach gaining insight with an open mind and as independent as possible.
Primary Research — Raw data that you conduct yourself — usually done after you do secondary, so you can narrow down what problem you’re solving for and what questions you can bring to further insights.
Secondary Research — Existing data that has been gathered and synthesized by others. (Not Uncle Toms Share.)
Attitudinal — You know Twitter? That’s Herd Behavior. Its when people act in bias because they’re being influenced by others around them.
Behavioral — Ok you’re home alone, no one is watching… You’re cognitive needs and desires are guiding your behavior. Ok, now imagine someone saw you.
Empathy comes with age, but it doesn’t have to
Maybe UX design is a role that we grow into once you have to deal with your body not working the way it used to. For instance my eyes are getting worse. I have trouble seeing at night without glasses. I get headaches. This makes me sympathetic to designing for accessibility.
I get it rising student loan debt, a ruined housing market, not to mention the looming threat of irreversible damage to the environment, they’ve called us lazy, when we didn’t do what they wanted for our lives, self centered for focusing on creating experiences for ourselves, entitled etc…Blah blah blah.
We could lead by example, with our design choices, and UX Design as a discipline could be spoken about right next to all the noble professions, like a doctor.