You the User
You the User
You the User

a little writing, a little code, a little design

Pot calling the kettle black

UX Community
on 30 April 2011

A fable

Once upon a time there was (probably) a designer who started calling himself a User Experience Designer. Some colleagues overheard him and thought “I’ll have a bit of that” and a bit later they too started calling themselves User Experience Designers. Later that same day some of these User Experience Designers went to the pub and had a natter about their new titles. In the same pub there were some other designers who worked elsewhere and a gaggle of Information Architects and Front End Developers and they couldn’t help but overhear this talk of User Experience and later when they got home they also thought “I like the sound of that User Experience Title Thing” and the next day at work they too started bandying new titles and buzzwords about. Soon some of these newly-titled Designers and Information Architects started writing about it and others begun reading about it and many thought “Fab, this sounds like me, I too am going to call myself -User Experience Designer-“. Quickly others pitched in. All sorts. Everyone wanted a bit of the User Experience Job Title Action and it was clear everyone and anyone was welcome to it (some smart alec even thought to start calling themselves a UX Designer).

The months and weeks went by and everything seemed ok in this brave new world of job titling. Occasionally a Librarian or an Information Architect with their heads buried in Richard Saul Wurman would look up confused, but generally everyone just got on with things. A few of the early adopters started thinking about what it all meant but generally talk was local and anyway no one was really 100% sure what they were talking about.

Then one day an inquisitive mind from a marketing department strode into town. He too had heard all about this User Experience business and was keen to find out more. He put himself about and sure enough without too much difficulty found out all he thought he needed to know to be able to add this new plume to his cap. When he arrived back home many of his more strident friends asked him about this new colourful feather in his cap and they too liked the way “User Experience Design” rolled off the tongue. Again, it wasn’t long before they too were contentedly running their fingers through their new feathers.

Now it felt as though the gates were well and truly open and it wasn’t long before the town was bustling with an array of visitors, from advertising executives to design college professors. The streets thronged and the talk was cheap. Everyone wanted a bit of the User Experience dollar – and everyone took it. There did seem to be plenty to go around.

It was at about this time that a few of the designer types who were the first to re-title themselves started thinking that they might just have a handle on what the User Experience title actually meant. They wrote a few things down, so did some of the later adopters, and they all found plenty of time to discuss it but the truth was agreement was sketchy and conversations were awash with greyness. There was common sense but common ground was patchy. Discussions were healthy but inconclusive. Ownership was tenuous.

Meanwhile, more developers, marketeers, planners, advertising executives et al continued to stream into town to hear about this User Experience thing. They continued clamouring at the discussion hotspots, all excited about the opportunities this new elixir might deliver.

Now, some of those early adopters and pioneers who were busy trying to clarify what User Experience meant began getting a little sniffy about all these new arrivals. “What right do they have coming here and taking our job titles?” But there was little they could do apart from discuss more, write more, plan more and work out more. 

And to this day that little town of User Experience continues to fill and throng, packed with discussion and thrills, finger pointing and charlatanry. A town like any other, but one that is searching for the meaning and implication of adding User Experience to a job title, to skills and to business offerings.

And the moral of this little tale my dear readers? We are often as guilty of the very things we are so quick to criticise in others.

Any comments to @solle or below

Written on Writer OSX (beta)


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