Why are User Experience (UX) and User-Centered Design (UCD) getting a bad rap?

There have been a number of recent articles, blog posts and list comments trashing user experience design (UX) as unneeded, misguided and counter-productive to good product design and development.

As a long-time user experience practitioner, I was taken aback by these attack from many sides. However, as my partner at Success PragmatiQ, Larry Marine, and I have come to realize, there is some truth to these concerns. Larry and I have addressed these issues in a number of articles and blog posts. Read on…

First, there has been a historic battle in Agile development camps as to the importance and place in the agile process. Many agile developers don’t see a need for up-front user research and product design. Unfortunately, agile is a development process and not a design process. Larry Marine and I addressed this problem in a recent article, “The Grand Design in Improving Agile Success,” on the new Software Quality Connection website. Our approach is that up-front, user-centered research can define users’ problems and create a design that solves these problems. User experience design can then be integrated into the agile process with parallel sprints that preceed development work. Read our article and let us know what you think!

Secondly, other articles have stated that user-centric design approaches don’t produce breakthrough designs. Read “User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea” at Fast Company’s Co.Design. Their premise is that listening to users and user-led design produces incremental improvements to design and sameness rather than innovative products. Our response to this is presented in Larry’s blog, “Mediocrity in Design.” Our response will definitely stir the pot! Again, please let us know what you think.

Finally, Larry was interviewed in Boulder by Allison Tatterson, where he spoke about user experience and what product managers should know about it. View the interview text and video. Here’s a snippet of what Larry had to say:

Every interaction someone has with a product, service, or company, creates an “experience,” including the branding, messaging, product positioning, sales channels, ordering/purchasing process, as well as the actual use of the product. Every touch-point combines to create a general perception by the users, and, as the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. That experience sets the tone of how that user will perceive the company and all aspects of it, including other products and services. User-experience design is the process of managing those experience touch points to achieve a specific desired effect. Good experience design is all about setting and managing specific expectations and experiences.

Along these lines, I wrote a brief article, “Effective Website Design – It’s all about managing expectations!” – in RMDMA Magazine (Page 4). Same topic – managing expectations about website design.

We hope this will generate comments and discussion about the drawbacks and improvements to be made in user experience and user-centered design. There’s nothing like a frontal attack to rally the troups!!

One Response to Why are User Experience (UX) and User-Centered Design (UCD) getting a bad rap?

  1. Looking for feedback and discussion!!!

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