Words matter even if they don’t matter to you.

Object Oriented User Experience is a great and incredibly detailed post by Sophia Voychehovski. It details out the how in system design approaches with some really great methods including the use of story deconstruction, which is on of my personal favorites. The article takes a very deep and holistic view of designing these systems that is very hard to argue with.

All that said, while I may talk to my teams about implementing some or all of these issues I won’t share this article w/ my cross-functional teams (who needs to see it most). … why?

Why, indeed.

It all has to do with language. Since I’ve been at my new job at a major technology corp I’ve been engaged in building what we’ve decided to call an “Insights & Strategy” group. It is inside the UX Team because research and the converting of research into insights to be used for strategic decision making is at the core of this new practice area. Our success hinges on the acceptance of the organization in our role to influence strategy through insight development — through user research combined with other data collection and analysis methods.

Part of this reality is that our or like many throughout the world are dealing with perception issues. At the heart of this is the perception that User Experience is the same as User Interface (only skin deep). It is not as bad as the old “lipstick on a pig problem” but definitely heavily leaning in that direction.

As I said above, I really like Sophia’s article. It deserves attention. It deserves all the positive attention it’s been given. However, it also deserves our caution and for the silliest reason — the title.

Even before I read it, I was like, “you can’t object orient experience.” Then I felt, I was falling for the semantic dismissal I often fall for. So I read it and loved it — everything except that title.

Now your context may be different. This UX vs. UI thing may be a non-issue for you. Heck! You may be a UI designer who likes calling themselves a UX designer because they make more money under this X title. (Ok, that was a little cynical.) Your org may have clearer roles. E.g. One colleague created a strategic role and called it CX (c=customer), or you have a service design practice and that works in your org.

For us and I’m pretty confident for many orgs, the use of UX as a synonym, intentionally or accidentally, with UI hurts. It creates tensions that reinforce belief systems that prevent many UX teams from being effective.

I know this may sound like a semantic knit, but my experience directly and from many stories I hear from others tells me that through clarity of language coupled with strong execution can we succeed. It is not so easy to say, especially in larger organizations, if you just did the work, the work would speak for itself. In these types of orgs there is no going rogue. Everything is through team cooperation and collaboration when trying to drive long term agendas.

It is easy to read a great article like this one and continue to be complicit in the fostering of bad language; however, when clarity is one of our main principles as a practice, we do ourselves a disservice when we ourselves are not as clear as we expect our colleagues to be.

Can you just change the title to OOUI?

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