Why I Want to Work in UX Design
I’m finishing up my economics degree this semester, and I’m excited to start working and contributing to the world. Although I’m grateful for all of the mental models and skills my degree has granted me, I do not plan on pursuing a career in economics or finance.
Once I graduate, I hope to work as a UX designer.
In this post, I’d like to explain what a UX designer does, and more importantly, why I want to become one.
This article serves two purposes:
- A way to clarify my thinking on my career choice
- A way to let others know what my plans are after school
What is UX Design?
User experience design is a relatively young field, and not many people know about it. I’m often asked what exactly UX design is whenever I express my desire to work in the field with my family and friends.
At its core, UX design is all about making sure that users achieve their desired task in an efficient and pleasant manner. I like to ask my friends if they’ve ever become physically upset from the frustration of using a product, and they inevitably say yes. I proudly reply by telling them my job would be not to let that not happen. 😊
Why UX Design?
Choosing a career is quite a daunting task, and unfortunately, many people never find something they’re passionate about.
I’m happy to say I’ve fallen in love with UX design, and I’d like to tell you why.
Don’t Make Me Think
Think of all of the services and products you use. How many of those services would you be able to serve to another person? How many of those products would you be able to make?
One of my favourite comedians, Joe Rogan, sums up this idea perfectly in one of his jokes.
Seriously. If you were dropped in the middle of the woods, how long would it take you to send me an email? My guess would be a very very long time… 🙊
This thought experiment makes you think about how dependent we are on the knowledge of other human beings. We are standing on the shoulders of giants as we go about our daily lives.
This is a good thing.
Think of all the gruelling tasks our ancestors had to think about accomplishing just to survive.
- How do I start a fire to keep warm at night?
- How do I hunt a Bison to feed my family?
- How do I protect my loved ones from a neighbouring tribe?
These are all daunting tasks! I’d much rather be a modern day “idiot” and not have to think about these things.
“It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle — they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.” — Alfred North Whitehead
I’ve lived with my grandfather for all my life, and he often questions why I do not know how to do certain tasks he finds basic and “necessary for a man to know.”
I often reply by explaining I do not need to know how to do them. The knowledge required to complete certain tasks in my grandfather’s time is no longer needed in mine, and I have the advancement of civilization to thank for this.
Civilization advances as the number of products and services available increases. The best products take something complicated and abstract it into an easy to use solution.
- Wealthsimple: I don’t want to think about rebalancing my portfolio, tax harvesting, and picking individual stocks. Automate it all for me.
- Excel: I don’t want to think about the formula. I want to highlight the data, run the regression, and interpret the results.
- Uber: I don’t want to think about what route I’m taking to my destination. I want a vehicle to arrive at a push of a button and take me there.
- SkiptheDishes: I don’t want to think about how I’m making dinner tonight. I want my food delivered to me while I’m studying for my exam.
- Amazon Web Services: I don’t want to think about setting up and racking servers. I want to pay a subscription and have access to the computing I need.
By extending the number of activities we no longer need to think about, people’s mental capacities are freed up to work on other problems we haven’t yet figured out.
Helping advance civilization by designing easy to use solutions to complicated problems fires me up! 🔥🤓🔥
The main theme Ben likes to write about is Aggregation Theory. In short, Aggregation Theory explains how we are moving from an era of pre-internet monopolies enabled by controlling supply to an era of post-internet monopolies enabled by controlling demand.
“The value chain for any given consumer market is divided into three parts: suppliers, distributors, and consumers/users. The best way to make outsize profits in any of these markets is to either gain a horizontal monopoly in one of the three parts or to integrate two of the parts such that you have a competitive advantage in delivering a vertical solution. In the pre-Internet era the latter depended on controlling distribution.
The fundamental disruption of the Internet has been to turn this dynamic on its head. First, the Internet has made distribution (of digital goods) free, neutralizing the advantage that pre-Internet distributors leveraged to integrate with suppliers. Secondly, the Internet has made transaction costs zero, making it viable for a distributor to integrate forward with end users/consumers at scale. This has fundamentally changed the plane of competition: no longer do distributors compete based upon exclusive supplier relationships, with consumers/users an afterthought. Instead, suppliers can be aggregated at scale leaving consumers/users as a first order priority. By extension, this means that the most important factor determining success is the user experience: the best distributors/aggregators/market-makers win by providing the best experience, which earns them the most consumers/users, which attracts the most suppliers, which enhances the user experience in a virtuous cycle.”
Delighting users is no longer a competitive advantage, but a basic requirement for success.
The firms who fail to put their customer’s experience at the centre of their strategy will be put out of business by those who understand the value of UX design.
If you want your users to love you, you need to show them love too. ❤️
Or in the words of the famous Tony Soprano…
Competing with other businesses to see who can give users the best experience sounds like a fun challenge to me! 💪😎
Learning About People
In high school, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an Orphanage in the Dominican Republic. I had a great time the first year, and I naively thought we had a made a difference.
This all changed when I had returned the second year.
It was quite obvious that things had gotten worse, and my feeling of accomplishment disappeared.
I had fooled myself into thinking I had helped solve a problem, and it was a terrible feeling I never want to feel again.
A large part of UX design is understanding people’s problems and this can only come from user research.
If I had spent the time to understand the children’s problems, I would have never deluded myself into thinking that a week spent teaching English and handing out gifts could make any meaningful difference in their lives.
You can have the best intentions, but if you do not know the underlying cause of a person’s problems, you will never be able to help them.
My life changed after I read the book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.” The book paints a compelling case for being optimistic about the future. It argues that through technology, we have the opportunity to create abundance for all. After reading the book, I thought I had to become an engineer to help build this future.
However, an understanding of technology is not enough. The best technology companies also appreciate the importance of understanding human needs, limitations, desires, and habits.
UX design lives at the intersection of science and humanities, and I find that area quite fascinating.
By understanding the problem’s people face, and applying correct technical solutions, I hope I can help create that world of abundance I so desperately want to see. 🌍
If you enjoyed this post please leave a clap and a share! 👏🏼🔥👏🏾🔥👏🏿🔥👏🏾
You can follow me on twitter @dalexandruignat 🔎🔎🔎🔎
(Note: This post is merely a reflection of what goes on in my weird little head)🤓