The UX Expert: myth or reality?

Just a few years ago you could say “I’m a UX designer” and people maybe didn’t understand what you wanted to say; in fact, there was a good chance that they didn’t really understand what the hell you were talking about; if someone asked more (if he/she dare, in pain of looking uncool or ignorant in the matter) about your work, it was more likely from you to end up mentioning usability and UI as central topics of conversation, then 99.87% of the time they would say like “oh… so you are a graphic designer”; and happens that the initial pilgrims in the discipline were them; today engineers, psychologists, sociologists, communicators, journalists and many more have joined the ranks. People now say to them: “oh… so you’re like a designer!”

This migration of professionals from different areas to the UX discipline probably happens because talking about UX became “cool” thanks in part to Steve (Jobs) and his obsession with detail, harmony and simplicity of use, that sense of elegance that he gave to Apple products that made them became almost cult objects (by the way, I’m not a fanboy, but to Caesar what is Caesar’s); and partly to technological development in recent decades (with the penetration of internet as a maximum enabler of it), which converted this industry (technology) into a massive one and almost a must of consumption in large doses across the whole society. Then, in addition to the “Coolness”, this new booming industry had money to pay for more and better professionals, making desirable to work on this.

And then, the flood of “UXers” began here and there. Add some agile and a few entrepreneurs to the mix and the result is hundreds if not thousands of new “UX Experts” on LinkedIn. Personally I do not like being called an “expert” on UX, I think that the expertise should be on methods used, in the cases you have had to live to see what you may adapt to a new challenge, in the toolbox available to go and research about a new problem and try to give a solution with focus on people who have it; so there is no such thing, in my humble and honest opinion, as someone who solves problems and magically know or have a knack to see first and better what need or want people or businesses to solve their problems and meet their needs and this is the profile of “UX Expert” found in the imaginery of some sectors of the industry, if not in most of them.

I strongly believe that you can’t solve problems without being in contact with the people who will use the solutions, without understanding them, their environment and situation, and that’s part of the inherent research of any good UX consulting process; without that research, without that “hands-on attitude” with the end users of the solution, the success of a (technological or not) project is infinitely more dependent on luck and ultimately a potential failure.

you can’t solve problems without being in contact with the final user…


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