Why User Experience Design?

In my past 10 years of training and work experience in the building and design industry moving from Architecture to Product Design, I have worked on several projects with people of various backgrounds, from designers, engineers to businessman who all spoke different languages.

While some collaboration are great, a handful of projects turn out to be a possible nightmare when important decisions are made by one who does make the effort to understand what the end-users need. In some circumstances, design decisions are made solely based on the paying customer’s “foresight”, with no concrete research. Judgment and choices were made based on what the paying customer believes are good for the users, which may not necessary be true.

I remember a discussion I once had with a designer on the choice of dining furniture for an al fresco area. I was puzzled by the choice of low sofa with a high dining table with a pair of dining chair on the opposite side. I recommended the change of low to high sofa, or otherwise another combination of furniture that would offer better comfort for the users. The designer was well aware of the mismatch of furniture and mentioned that she has highlighted to the client, recommending other choices. However, as the client insists on the “creative” choices, eventually we have to stick the specifications as indicated.

I believed such experiences are common for designers and there are times when we have to gave in to the client and “design” based on what they want, rather than for what people actually needs.

My first encounter with user experience design began with a hack-a-ton competition where I was invited to join a team to develop an app for social causes. During the competition, I worked with an app developer and a programmer to design the mobile app interface. Although we only won a consolation prize, the experience had been rather invaluable to me.

It was the first time I felt that I could truly design “for people”, where decisions are made based on research and user’s feedback, rather than based on a few seniors’ subjective critique that I sometimes disagree with. I enjoyed the process, as it was the time when I get to talk to people from all walks of life, see things from different perspective and gain insight of how things could possibly work.

I always believed that design should be for people, and sees the potential of user experience design bringing me further in my career. Therefore I am joining User Experience Design in the hope of realising this vision.

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