Humble UX

We all started with the desire to make things right, and then we became ideologues.

I scanned the paper I have in my hand and stopped at two words that stood out to me. Deftly, I peeled out the letters U and X off the white surface and waved it in front, rattling out its contents. The letters jiggled at me, almost sarcastically, as I pondered in a moment of memory loss the meaning of UX, or XU or whatever it meant.

The abbreviation robs out a rich part of the semantic meaning of that terminology. So often my eyes glossed through the letters and so often my brain keeps on piling idea(l)s onto it, that it resembles something more of a shopping bag full of groceries that you need to pile up for the week and two. So UX is User Experience, I recall bemused.

Take a moment to savor that thought - user experience. It sounds sharp doesn’t it? Like a finely crafted Samurai blade. And wrought like a Samurai blade it is, for UX is this weapon that we use to slice open the doors to user acquisition and market share. But let’s not use the abbreviation for a moment, user experience is this weapon… I guess that sounds about right?

Ideals create rigid structure that serves only to penetrate through the wash of uneducated masses so that the righteous shall win and seat the throne. Ideals create hard edges where every one that it used to served tries to grab onto it, only to find it hit a hard wall where there used to be a hand hold and slipped down into some form of oblivion.

Or a competitor’s product. Or misery.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the depths of my heart twice over and thrice that user experience is key. I draw an equality from the left end of user experience to the right end of emotion. Ultimately, the existence of a product, and by extension the meddle-y fingerprints that we product designers put on them, is to improve someones lives, somehow. It is a grandiose statement, and improvement is hard to quantify, but we go to sleep at night with this little hope in us that we did improve the quotient, even if it’s just by a tiny little bit.

And as I keep going down this thread of thought, and picking up user experience to stare down it’s soul, I had a sudden jolt. The staring contest is going no where I thought to myself. And as I lower down my ego protection shield, a sudden well of humility swelled up on me, almost to the point of tears. Not actual tears, mind you, just metaphorical ones.

I don’t know what it looks like, but I think it’s time to start ingesting a dose of empathy and 3 shots of humility into my design process. I wish there was a 12 step program that I can prescribe and then start preaching about the virtues of Humble UX. User Experience, with a dose of humility, begins with the man in the mirror. Or you know, begins with the User.

Or you know, we just want to make pretty pictures. Sometimes. All the time.