The Captivation of User Experience Design

User experience design crept up on me.

Industrial design student

I did not have the time and patience for elective modules, as a struggling design student, back in 2008, especially when one had a name as bleak as “Human factors in Industrial Design”.

The dread did not last for long. I devoured every reading, lecture and project that was thrown at me that semester, as a first year industrial design student. Affinity diagrams appealed to my need for order among chaos, ‘user interviews’ became an outlet for the nosy parker in me and personas were just fun (funny too).

That semester, something changed and I did not realise it then. I began to believe in human-centred design.

Game design intern

Life continued for this struggling design student. I devoted hours to sanding down foam to make handheld devices, laboured over the milling machine and soon landed myself an internship at a local boardgames company.

I quickly learnt that user testing, known as play-testing in the game design industry, was not a luxury or an afterthought but a priority instead. Games were reconstructed from scratch based on feedback from 11-year-olds!

My affinity for user experience continued to grow over weeks of paper prototyping, player observations and interviews.

Associate at design & lifestyle library

It was 2014 and every organisation was on a user-experience high. Design Thinking, human-centred design, human computer interaction, user interface design were terms thrown around every time someone started a project with a stack of Post-its.

I built a design and lifestyle library, with a bunch of other amazing people. We put in the whole works. We mapped user journeys, we developed personas, we built prototypes and we conducted numerous focus group sessions.

And at that point, my faith in human-centred design, which I adapted to calling user experience design, began to wane. Am I a user experience designer? Why did user experience, many years on, feel a lot more superficial, when it should have been more developed? How do I keep up with all the terms design-wordsmiths keep shoving at us? Am I jaded?


So I quit my job and began my quest to define my scope and niche in today’s ‘UX’ noise. Am I going to make it? Am I going to be a phoney?

I do not know but I shall soldier on with my rose-tinted glasses.

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