There’s so much Argy-Bargy about who does what in usability, user experience, interaction, interface design – and there’s so much debate about Designers vs Users vs Techies – it all gets a bit fuzzy, as the user, great ideas and designer can often get lost along the way.
It’s great that there is a debate at all. At least there’s interest and discussion. If the debate is Usability Designers vs Interaction Designers, or boxes vs arrows, or yellow vs blue, it doesn’t matter – what’s good thing is the debate about the users’ experience is happening.
However if the language we use is fuzzy, and like our designs and prototypes is being iterated as we go, everytime we enter into a debate there’s a woolly vagueness about the terms being used, killing the debate and causing mistrust. Terms like ‘usability’ and ‘user experience’ are used so generically and often carelessly that debates get fuzzy. People are violently agreeing with each other when they think they’re disagreeing – because they have used fuzzy lingo. There are now so many terms which are all used inconsistently we now have a Mashup User Experience language.
There’s nothing wrong with that per se except for the fact that User Experience can’t afford to be exclusive. It’s not about being In the Club where people in-the-know have the secret handshake and password language. It’s about inclusiveness, including everyone in the debate – especially the user. Only by taking an inclusive, collaborative approach, can the user be the hero.
This article is nice because the writer is very specific about their terms of reference with needle-sharp clarity. They’d make a rubbish politician but I love their honest clarity. Broadcasting the debate as they have makes more people think about the issues, and that’s got to be good in the end. So if there’s a Designer vs User debate you stumble across – which there’s likely to be in a website coming soon where you are – then be specific about what you mean by usability, user experience, the user, UX, the designer, information architect, etc and it may help to win over the Techies who may be thinking ‘all this UX is just a load of fluff’ and it may help to get the User to be the focus of everyone’s attention. Click here for more of the debate.