The Problem with “UX Design”
Faulty Terms for Design Roles
As I’ve gained experience in the design world, I’ve come to recognize some problems in our classifications of job roles. We use terms like Graphic Designer, UX Designer and UI Designer to embody their own specific roles in the realm of design. While there are pros to this, there are also negative connotations of separating out roles in this way.
The primary problem is the dumbing down of the term UX, or User Experience. The fact of the matter is that every designer should be taking UX principles into account when they create. Everything about design should be user-focused, but we’ve reduced UX Designer to refer to someone who designs user-friendly digital interfaces.
Every Designer Should Be a UX Designer
When it comes time to give a title to someone who designs user-friendly digital interfaces, I prefer the term UI (User Interface) Designer because, in my opinion, every designer should be a UX designer – at least to an extent. Design is all about creating a product or brand that some audience of users will experience and/or interact with. Whether that’s a mobile app, a website or even a logo or tactile printed books or business cards, there will be a group of people who will interact with those elements and walk away with either a positive or negative experience. When designers fail to realize this, it can result in negative experiences for users.
What UX Design (and Designers) Should Be
Having said that, I think there is a place for someone with the role of UX Designer. However, I think this role should look much different than our current bastardization. When we dumb down the term User Experience to encompass only digital interface design, we leave graphic designers with the misconception that they’re off the hook for designing for user experience. If the UX Designer has got User Experience covered, why worry about it?
User Experience encompasses so very much more than just the digital design we’ve made it. It involves color theory, type choice, font size, physical design and ergonomics, packaging, accessibility and so much more. So, in my mind, if we’re going to call people UX Designers, they should be specialized professionals who hold Graphic Designers and User Interface Designers accountable to designing for users’ needs. They should be the quality control on the frontend and the backend of a project, ensuring all features are user-friendly, starting from the very beginning stages. These should be the people who have studied human factors and ergonomics and maybe even marketing. They understand how people interact with products and interfaces so they know how to cater to those needs. These people should oversee user-testing – not just for mobile applications and websites, but – for all the designed items that are being produced.
UX across All of Design
And we need to make sure that Graphic Designers and UI Designers understand their role in the world of User Experience. Designers as a unit need to realize the importance of creating user-friendly products and interfaces and logos and business cards and billboards. My challenge to Designers is to design for legibility, accessibility, emotional connection, ergonomics and an overall great user experience with a product and/or brand. Be in tune to users’ patterns, needs, hopes, wishes, likes, dislikes, etc. and create designs that come alongside those things. And if you get stuck, you can always ask that specialized UX Designer to lend their knowledge to the project (except they don’t exist).