I am confident that I am not the only one following the conversation about the definition of the UX profession as a whole. If you work in the user experience space, you know very well what I am referring to. In fact, you probably have taken sides in the LinkedIn conversation about whether or not a UX portfolio is necessary, or even given your own opinion about what is necessary to focus on when building an effective UX portfolio. Either way, you also know that UX is not the same as UI, wireframes are not the only deliverable we produce, and Lean UX is an ideal process that doesn't always works as expected (or desired).
UXers: Creative or Analytical Thinkers?
We visualize, create and articulate to solve problems, but not before we carefully observe and measure. We love what we do because we truly believe that what we produce will make a difference and help others do what they need to do, and enjoy it at the same time. My personal definition of a UX professional is an individual who is a creative analytic builder and problem solver with an obsessive ideal: Make things useful, effective and efficient for people to enjoy. So, there you have it — we are creative and analytical (in whichever order you want). It is the individual ascending path what makes us different and what unifies us at the same time. That is my belief.
You may be asking by now — What the heck is she talking about? What is an ascending path?
The UX Ascending Path
The UX spectrum moves through an ascending path, and that path starts from a wide variety of knowledge domains and skills and narrows down to specifics in the UX realm of functional areas. In fact, our UX professional community is peppered with rich diversity that is free to employ different approaches, philosophies and methodologies to this field. What is interesting about this is that as a growing field, we have to suffer through some growing pain as well. Take a look at Mona Patel’s story as she gave a talk about the business of UX and she ended up being insulted by an opinionated UX professional. It is clear then that as a professional community, we all should be well aware of our diversity in ascending paths. As CEO, Mona here has a clear business minded interest in UX work and her beliefs and experience in business allows her to propose other methods that may work well for her creative agency. To me, clearly her UX ascending path leads her vision of delivering clear UX value while saving on cost for her clients for a better partnership. I’m sure you have your own UX work story.
At UX Mastery, Matthew Magain has outlined a short list of UX roles that we in the field are very familiar with. Which role do you hold today? Which role resonates with what you enjoy doing the most in a project? What is your experiential and educational background that complements well your UX role? If you answered those questions and are honest with yourself, you can clearly start identifying your own preference and UX ascending path. Your own unique UX strength in this field; the one thing that sets you apart and makes your contribution awesome. Now, know then that each one of us has a gift to contribute to UX, and our multidisciplinary background sometimes directs our journey and growth in this field.
So, whether you enjoy content strategy or are a whiz at visualizing the complex user journeys and recognizing design patterns to implement; enjoy your gift. If your project team member is a user research genius and can create new concepts based on a user need, learn from him. In all cases, realize that the gift you contribute to the UX community is unique and valuable, just as everyone else’s in this community. Our UX work diversity is our strength.