The Goal of User Experience Design

As the term User Experience Design or UX Design is becoming more mainstream, we are on the cusp of diluting its meaning and misappropriating it.

Kim Wolting working on UX diagrams

UX Toolkit

Web, App, and Software designers have created an amazing culture around embracing UX. We have great blogs, conferences, and workshops which are geared towards sharing the knowledge of the field. The community has built an increasingly large toolkit of processes, tools, and exercises all focused on building better user experiences in our products.

Unfortunately though, User Experience Design is not only about doing user interviews, creating user personas and journeys, building product roadmaps, and prototyping design concepts.

While these are great artifacts that will naturally come out of any good, and well-thought out UX Design process, these are the least important aspect. What we as designers do with the insights we learn from these exercises exposes the true value of making UX Design a priority.

We Are Focusing too Much on the User

Gasp. What?

For too long I think we’ve thought of ourselves as advocates for the user. While it is true we have users in the front out our mind, they can’t be our only focus.

Instead, we must think our ourselves as liaisons between users and the organization for which we are building a product. We need to spend just as much time understanding what are their needs and goals.

When we give equal importance to both parties, we can help create that symbiotic relationship

It’s All About Goals

Organizations have goals. Users have goals. Our job as the intermediary between the two of them is to align them.

Much like the symbiotic relationship between Remora Fish and Sharks, neither cares about the others’ goals, but they have become aligned because they depend on each other. This is true between a product and a user.

To understand this relationship better, we need to understand a couple of things:

  • The Shark can’t make the Remora latch on and eat and,
  • The Remora trusts the shark that it won’t be harmed and even protected

The parallels are abundant:

  • An organization can’t force people to become users and,
  •  Users trust that a product will fulfill their goals

Aligning Goals

If this is starting to sound a lot like product design and marketing, it is. The only difference is, that rather than “claiming” a product will meet someone’s goals, we utilize the insights we gained from the fore mentioned UX Toolkit to guide every decision made to align with both the user and the organization.