User experience was once the grail of design.
Just 5 years ago there was still unexplored territory to be charted. UX designers branched out in all fields of design, product, psychology and analytics.
Now, it’s almost 2020 and those explorers didn’t send back almost any sign of a new land.
There’s a disconnection in the design market. Something that is subtle and yet felt by most senior roles in the UK and abroad.
While UX (not necessarily digital) courses, seminars, meetups and retreats keep multiplying, and they are becoming a viable source of income for those who prefer to teach rather than “make”, we see a withdrawal of innovation in most of the usually more advanced arena for user experience: startups.
There was once a draw bridge between us (the designers) and them (the World). That bridge has been drawn, quartered and burnt. It seems like now the UX fortress is feeding on itself, stuck in a self imposed siege.
The ones shut inside? A few veteran of the Flash-Era, the many “still young but settled into corporate armchairs”, and then, a full garrison of young recruits who attended a 1-week-crash-course in UX design and they are now “ready for battle”.
The Ivory Tower of old would be a too fancy comparison for the day-to-day drudgery of the contemporary, average UX designer. These people don’t walk the privileged corridors of some lofty, well paid industry. These are skilled workers, supposedly on the forefront of innovation and exploration, which are instead over killing the “already-known”, drawing as much blood as possible from a desiccated discipline.
The next wave of device innovation could literally wipe out all of these roles and skill sets (let’s not even considered AI powered UX’ analytics). On the other hand it could finally push people out of their comfort zone, out of the bootstrapped websites, out of the endless post-it meetings, out of that “0.001% improvement is still improvement” mentality.
As designers, people’s experience should be our first priority. The experience a user should be a continuous process, evolving with the business’ brand, its services and values. Not a one-size-fit-all approach.
While digital UX dies out (waiting for a rebirth), real-life user experience could actually kick in.
Drop your £500/day UX courses, they’re a scam.
Get an evening degree in psychology and learn how to actually design a solution.
Whatever your current role is, these two skills will serve you better than knowing how to export an icon with one of the 1000 design software competing for the same market out there.