Keep wishing for that UX unicorn

Keep wishing for that UX unicorn

Why do we need an UX professional? Can’t just the Designer do that bit usability stuff? And for what do you need time for analysis? The Designer should have enough experiences to know that all already!
from a discussion with a customer

or my all-time favorite:

Can’t you just make it the way it should be right from the beginning?
a friends co-worker

The UX domain is a quite new field (not really, but it is in most minds out there). You’ll start to find education/trainings for that and there are some conventions and great online blogs dedicated to UX topics. But in the eyes of most customers (which I meet everyday, if you can tell different stories, please please restore my faith!) optimized UX still seems to be either some kind of weird voodoo magic or some thing that comes automatically.

But everyone of us UX professionals knows, how much time, effort and brain power goes into that work. And nothing of that can be done easily along the way while putting together a website layout in photoshop. I find it hard to convince (and even educate) customers and coworkers on how UX works and what needs to be done. And because of that lack of knowledge and experience, it seems hard for them to understand, that one person alone can’t to holistic UX work alone. Someone who covers all aspects of UX, including research and analysis, information architecture, visual and interaction design (yes, these are two different things!) AND usability all on an equally good skill level, is very rare. Such a person I’d like to call an UX unicorn. A mystical creature with great power and infinite knowledge and wisdom. And no need of sleep, because he would have to work 24/7 to manage all that…

An UX unicorn would not need to ask, who the target audience is. He knows already for which user groups the product has to be designed and what their needs are.
He would not need to go trough iteration cycles. He makes no mistakes and thinks of everything right from the beginning.
Testing?! What for? It is already flawless and perfect!
Also tiny sparkling fairies are dancing around his head and he’s pooping rainbows.

Bullshit. Right?!

I must admit, it would be awesome to have (or to be) such a kind of UX professional. But we live in a boring muggle-world without magic, it’s simply not realistic. It’s like you try to be CEO, CDO, CFO, COO, CTO and CBO (Chief Bullshit Officer) of a (more than one person-)company at the same time. The best would be, if you as an UX professional focus on certain aspects. For my work I try to specialize in usability and research to provide a sound and necessary base for visual and interaction designers. Of course you can’t ignore the other aspects of the broad domain of UX. You’ll need fundamental or at least basic knowledge of them. But it is necessary and useful to focus and specialize.
Of course you’ll need a bigger team, but each one can do his best work and not something halfhearted out of time pressure. In the end the project won’t take any longer and the result will clearly have a better quality.
And of course that has to be communicated clearly towards customers and coworkers!
For a happier UX professionals work life.


(Picture by JD Hancock under Creative Commons license)

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