There is something humane about designing technology with the needs of its users at the forefront. At its core, UX is both an empathic and analytical practice, utilising research methods that allow us to observe, record and dissect the behaviours of our human users, both conscious and subconscious.
The popularisation and strong demand during the growth of an industry, like UX, can sometimes create a frenzied excitement, which makes people lose sight of what caused the fever in the first place. So, what makes UX such an inspiring and pivotal space to be in?
UX Designers are more than just another cog in the enigmatic machine of web design. Our job is to provide weight to the voices of those who might not have one, and we must try not to let industry hype cloud this purpose. There is a humanity to good design that allows people to engage with products that they otherwise could not, or would not.
What is Good UX Design?
Good User Experience Design allows technology to enhance our humanity, not oppress it, by anticipating our intuitive needs and actions and designing for them. This is evident in the current industry discourse on how UX not only benefits the developed world, but can also enhance quality of life in developing countries. The chaos and volatility of developing markets mean only the products that have been designed to satisfy a need specific to that market will succeed or provide value to its users.
What might help a person to alleviate a burden from their everyday lives? One great example is in the introduction of intuitive and usable banking apps in the developing world, where smartphones have only recently taken hold. These apps serve a different user to the developed world. Entrepreneurs operate their businesses with diverse needs, and personal banking may be a very recent concept for most.
A more open internet
There is a collective movement in the technological world to provide and employ open source code, data and content. International organisations are starting to realise the value of compounded thought and joining the revolution. One such example is the World Trade Organisation granting access to their vast array of data to encourage innovation and technological creativity and advancement.
The UX behind the technology
We often hear about how technology can make lives easier, but it is the UX Designer behind that technology who seeks to understand the intrinsic drivers of human behaviour, to provide that ease. To achieve this, we employ research methods like contextual enquiries to immerse ourselves in the lives of potential users, and to question and observe their behaviours and motivations.
Thought leaders in our industry are seeking to leverage the research experience and insights that people from fields in the humanities and social sciences can bring (like anthropology, psychology, marketing and behavioural economics), to refine the development of form and function in computer technologies.
The 21st century will be defined by the power of technology to shape our lives. Today, our homes, cars, finances, and even our careers and social lives are increasingly mediated by it. This integration of human needs and capabilities into technologies is the essence of positive human-computer interaction (HCI): tailoring a product to reflect the intuitive needs of the user.
There is no one UX design process, and no one path to becoming a UX designer, however there is a common thread amongst those in our industry: we are motivated by, and attracted to, a responsibility and opportunity to create technology that acknowledges and accounts for our innate human desires.
What do you think?
Do you agree with these humanity-driven motivations? What are your favourite examples of where good UX design has really helped a business or community in a humane way? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below!
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