Giving Thanks for UX Design

Giving Thanks for UX Design

By Jeff LeBlanc

Here in the U.S., the month of November makes us look at ahead to the Thanksgiving holiday, which for many is a time for being with friends and family, giving thanks for the good things in our lives, and eating copious amounts of turkey.  Professionally speaking, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have built an amazing team of User Experience (UX) and Visual Designers here at ICS.  Reflecting further on that, I find I’m thankful that these professions exist these days, and you should be too.

When digital products were first being produced, there were no UX designers.  Engineers designed and developed products, and usability tended to be an afterthought.  Anyone who remembers programming a first-generation VCR should know what I’m talking about.  Over the years, notions about Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) have evolved into what we recognize now as UX design, and I’m thankful for that.  I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving dinner providing “tech support” to family members who bought a new device and couldn’t quite seem to make it work as intended.  Better design has solved a lot of that, introducing products to the market that are easy for everyone to use.

Do you have to shop for the family dinner, check the weather for the local sports game, or want to stealthily check the football score while at the dinner table?  As they say, there’s an app for that.  Best practices of UX design have streamlined the usage of smartphone apps, allowing users to accomplish their goals faster, leaving more time for an extra helping of stuffing.  After dinner, better-designed remote controls and DVR interfaces have me watching the football game with very little frustration.

Believe it or not, UX designers have even been helpful in getting food on the table faster.  In Don Norman’s excellent work, “Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things”, he spends some time talking about the design of various kitchen utensils, and describes how using well-designed ones can make our lives better. 

This all makes me very thankful for the evolution of the profession of the UX Designer.  It’s a profession I love, and it makes a positive impact in people’s lives.  UX Designers bring empathy to the product development cycle, making sure that the physical and digital products we interact with every day meet our expectations, instead of raising our frustration level.  It also helps get turkey on my plate faster, which at this time of year is truly a win!