UX Design it NOT all about users

Shawn Deng
Mar 18 · 3 min read

Ambiguous definition of user experience design makes designers hard to articulate what it truly means.

Photo by bonneval sebastien on Unsplash

As a relatively new filed in the design world, it applies to more than digital product, either tangible or intangible, as long as the product is meant to interact with humans, in any kind, then we can get the sense of UX in that particular product. Same for service design, it depends on whether what we design helps humans, solves problems we have.

Thus, it is indeed a broad concept; however, as we expand the use cases for the UX, we may have gone so far chasing the idea of thinking for the users, yet one question remains, what are the intents we bring those design to life and make them into real products, digital or non-digital?

To answer that, we should take some time, to think from the opposite. That’s said, UX design is not all about users.

Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

One of my most admired professor at the Centre for Digital Media, who is also co-teaching at UBC and SFU, left us with a question, what it means by the core of UX. It made me think deep on the matter that, are we always looking after the users?

The answer is direct but rather simple; we are not.

When looking back to the start of a design project, there are some people, coming and asking for a solution, whether it is digital or not, and no matter how it works. When they have an idea in mind, they certainly have a goal attached. Let’s say; the target may not be overarching; for instance, Mark Zuckerberg did not anticipate what he created for dorm communication would be the largest social media platform after years. But there has to be something, that guides people to make great things happen, and the inventors, they don’t necessarily become the users.

So between the clients, or whoever brings up with the ideas, and the end users, designers come in, trying to implement. While UX designers are thinking about users, they get the back stories, ideas and requirements from the clients, aren’t UX designers also being influenced, or in any way, thinking about making their clients satisfied? Designers feel that they are responsible for users frustration, but more of the times, they have to deliver the solution first and get things to start from there.

Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

In this case, UX design is also about balance-finding, between the clients and the users. So understanding the clients will make UX designers’ work a lot easier. They have to make sure that whatever they are going to deliver, is aligned with the goal investors and clients set at the beginning. Making both parties happy, should be the hardest work in this industry.

It is safe to say that many of the real-world project owners are reasonable, and they understand the situation; they respect the design thinking. But the core is yet clear, if UX designers are only thinking about the other end, the user, which breaks the balance that makes a product robust.

Having that in mind, I would love to pay more attention to the clients. Respecting their needs, to say the least, is not pleasing clients or ignoring users. As UX designers, balancing means that this job is not only about users; it is also related to clients, ourselves, and many more.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Hopefully, we can achieve a lot more, understanding the needs from different perspectives, and making ourselves better UX designers.

Shawn Deng

Written by

Graduate Student, MDM. Digital Product Designer.