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The UX of Social Media

Investigations into the social media user experience

Who in Silicon Valley is Actually Prioritizing Good UX design?

Having worked extensively in the UI/UX design arena since 1995, and pursued user inquiries for tech doc and marketing programs before that, I can’t say I’ve witnessed UX considerations win out over feature choices for the next breathless release. Ever.

Is it because the stakeholders never spend a second in the product support department, or listen to the teeth-gnashing of the tech writers and marketing copy writers as they return from a dev meeting trying to explain something in mere words that was built around an esoteric mental model? Or because the feature’s reason to be is based not on user research but on ‘coding coolness’.

I asked one developer to tell me who was supposed to understand a feature they were building. Answer: “Me and Tim.” Attempts to introduce a more accessible mental model failed because there was ‘not enough time’. Or maybe there weren’t enough Tims.

Is it because the same copy writers fail in their ability to explain the qualities of the user experience, or what the UX actually is to begin with? That is admittedly a tough problem. How does one explain breathing, anyway?

It is hard to explain user experience as a feature.

It’s because we all overlook the difference between quick judgements (e.g., usability evaluations) and long-term use (e.g., a beta trial). Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink spent a good 45 pages with the issue of market research, and came up with the notion that we often ask questions that are exactly wrong for the important issues. The key comment the UX professional hears is there is not enough time. Not enough time for what? To do the job right?

UX designers chime in – what is your take? Same? Better? Worse?

One Response to “Who in Silicon Valley is Actually Prioritizing Good UX design?”

  1. Empress Carol

    I’m am a teeth-gnashing technical writer. I’ve had to document a number of UXs that were created on-the-fly or at the whim of software developers, marketing and sales personnel, and even management, with no consideration for the people who use them. I don’t care how well you write, you cannot adequately document a poorly designed and implemented UX.