I’ll be honest: I am skeptical of much of the buzzwords and cool tech talk of this Brave New World of lightspeed technology evolution. That includes the term for the role that I ended up pursuing – UX Design. User. Experience. Honestly, just having an X by itself in any word automatically catapults it to a more futuristic level. It’s like, reminiscent of a space ship, and I don’t know why. In general, I’m more of a fan of straight talk, not pretention. Why, I wondered, do we need to create a fancy word for what is essentially just making things work with common sense? So that UX designers can earn more money? Probably.
However, I do like design that works well, no matter what you call it. This can be a website, or how the house is arranged, or my personal favorite: my dish soap dispenser where you press the dispenser down, as opposed to a bottle of dish soap you need to turn over every time you put soap on the sponge. Two weeks ago I got a reminder that good design – or just plain common sense design – is really the lynchpin of good function.
It happened in a medical office. I had spent the whole morning there, from 9 a.m., in a quest to get all of my kids up to date with various medical stuff that they needed. Finally, we had finished; it was 11 a.m., and allllll that remained was to schedule follow up appointments. I thought it would take five minutes. Then I saw the program the new secretary was working with on the computer. It was clunky boxes, design straight out of 1995! Seriously!! Every click to find a time or a date was arduous! The five minutes I had expected to wait turned into twenty. I felt a righteous outrage at the so not user-friendly appointment program. “What is with me?” I thought. “Why am I so upset about this? Stop being so spoiled!” But the truth is, that clunky design took another half hour of my time, and wastes every single person’s time that comes into that office- and it doesn’t need to be that way.
I was reminded of the app I use to manage all of the different aspects of my life – Asana – and how it is so much easier to visualize my day because of their winning design – clean design with three different formats to see tasks – list, boards, and calendar. All the tasks are movable, color coded, and simple. Having a clean design makes me able to accomplish more in my day, because there is an order and a peace in the tasks I need to do. That’s how good user design can help people – it impacts our level of calm, of happiness that things are flowing smoothly, our ability to be efficient and therefore feel successful. At the very least it reduces just one more daily frustration.
And that’s something I’m for no matter what it’s called.