Beware of false UX!

I suspect quite a few web developers and designers have encountered them: The “UX professionals” without one single clue about how the internet works or what makes a great user experience.

I’m not a UX professional (though my job involves a lot of user experience thinking) but through my 12 years of working with the internet I’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of having to work with people who have rebranded themselves “UX professionals” when their print design careers dried up. It’a a really problematic situation to be in, when you are supposed to take UX clues from people who very obviously do not know what the hell they’re doing.

So here’s a little list of what I expect from a UX professional:

  • Deliver good wireframes
    You do not need to deliver pixel perfect Photoshop files for every single view on the entire site. Making it look good/right is my job. If you want to be a designer, be a designer, instead of nitpicking on something that’s someone else’s job.
  • Explain your choices
    If you at any point justify any of your UX choices with “It looks pretty”, know that a voice in my head is calling for me to smack you. Well not really, but just pretend that’s what I’m thinking whenever you make a choice you can’t defend.
  • Think original / Stop stealing
    More times than I am comfortable with remembering, I’ve encountered UX directions that are so overly inspired by other sources it’s incredible. If you can at least explain why you picked the entire navigation structure from Yahoo or wherever, I’ll respect it, but realize that UX is not proper UX if you didn’t think about the user experience for the site you’re working on.
  • Respect your peers
    Realize that even though you’re the UX professional, other people might have thoughts and experiences around what you propose. Don’t shut me out just because I’m “just” a web designer. I was making websites when you were still cursing over color profiles in Quark Xpress.

I have the greatest respect for UX as a profession and a field, and most UX people I’ve worked with are great at what they do. The problem is that UX has been such an undefinable profession that it’s been too easy to fake it. Tell a client you’re a UX expert, and they won’t know how the hell to prove otherwise.

Rant over.

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