The Death of User Experience?

That’s perhaps a little premature, and I admit I may be exaggerating for dramatic effect, but I suspect it’s on the horizon.

I’ve long maintained that User Experience is just another in the long line of buzzwords that have afflicted our industry since its inception. Granted it’s now an established buzzword – it’s an absolutely valid discipline, and a role that is becoming increasingly accepted amongst practitioners, managers, recruiters and clients alike, but nonetheless I would argue that the label ‘user experience’, along with the UX acronym, is a non-descript buzzword.

And from where I’m standing, I can’t help feeling it’s one that doesn’t have much longer to run.

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Job Titles – Again

That age-old problem of job titles has been on my mind again lately, prompted by my starting to look around for my next project, hence the need to convey clearly what it is that I actually do, plus the imminent need to print up some new business cards.

I’ve been mostly calling myself a User Experience Architect in recent years, but really just because that’s the terminology agencies – digital and recruitment – relate to. User Experience is certainly becoming a more firmly established discipline, yet it remains stubbornly undefined, with myriad competing and conflicting interpretations abounding.

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Agile, Lean – It’s All About The Team

I’ve seen and heard of quite a few Agile projects that have failed to live up to expectations, or even failed completely. And I’ve watched organisations – agencies in particular – struggle to adopt Lean UX.

Not because there’s anything wrong with the methodologies, I think. And not necessarily because they were implemented badly – though I’ve seen that happen. I suspect it’s because one crucial factor gets overlooked – the people.

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User Experience – Not Just a Line on the Project Plan

This thing we call ‘User Experience’ – it’s a strange old beast, isn’t it? A fairly meaningless term in and of itself, yet the discipline, the skill set, the expertise it represents is absolutely fundamental to our industry.

The key word there is discipline. Sadly, it seems that all too often user experience is treated as just a step in a process, a task in a project plan, a department within an agency or a specialist within a team. But that’s not what it should be. It’s a state of mind, a way of thinking – a discipline that permeates everything we do as an industry.

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Interactive TV – Because We Can

I dug this old article out after re-reading my commentary on my Interactive Narrative thesis that I posted a while ago. This one dates back to April 1999; I recall it being published somewhere or other, possibly in New Media Age magazine, I think. Anyway, it was a time when the web was coming to a TV set near you and the magical ‘red button’ was going to wake us from our stupor, drag us out of couch potato mode and make us lean forward and, you know, interact with the gogglebox. Er, riiiiight….

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MA DIM Dissertation (1995): Interface Metaphor

I recently retrieved my old dissertations from MA Design for Interactive Media course back in 1995… This one discusses the use of metaphors in the user interface. As I recall, I was going to title it “Trouble With Liken” but evidently for some reason decided not to. Can’t think why… ;-)

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MA DIM Dissertation (1995): Interactive Narrative

I recently retrieved my old dissertations from MA Design for Interactive Media course back in 1995… This one discusses the concept of interactive narrative fiction and the problems faced in attempting successfully to create such works. Re-reading it now, seventeen years later, I am particularly struck by the relevance of this excerpt to so-called ‘Interactive’ (i.e. ‘red-button’) TV:

“It seems to me that creating interactive narrative is not just a matter of taking conventional prose and putting it into an interactive medium. Indeed, it might be argued that there is more to be lost from doing this than there is to be gained.”

Probably best if I don’t get started on what’s wrong with “interactive TV”… ;-) But I do have another old article on that lying about somewhere, which I may dig out and post up here at some point. Anyway, hope you enjoy this one.

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MA DIM Dissertation (1995): Web Commercialisation

I recently retrieved my old dissertations from MA Design for Interactive Media course back in 1995… This one discusses the likely commercialisation of the then-nascent Web – perhaps worth pointing out that this was when the latest cutting-edge browser was Netscape 1.1, Google and Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash didn’t yet exist, and the concept of ‘Social Media’ was still a decade away… The ‘SellNet Project’ referred to was a piece of interactive multimedia that I and two colleagues (Lee Woodard and Iain Jones) developed for our final MA project. It probably still exists somewhere, but whether it would run on today’s computers is another matter – it was built in Macromedia Director (version 3 as I recall) and at a time when anything above an 800×600 screen, 256 colours and half-a-meg or so of RAM was sheer luxury… ;-)

Looking back, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much now seems so prescient (notwithstanding a few moments of naivety!). Fascinating (for me) to re-read it after all these years. I hope you may find the same.

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So Why The Long Silence?

Um, hate to admit it but… I forgot I had this blog. Oops. Suppose I’d better do something about the look and feel then. Maybe. If I get round to it. Oh well. Hope you find my musings from back in 2004/5 interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0. Oh dear.

Yet another buzzword being prepped for the hype machine. As Jack Schofield says in today’s Guardian, this could be the beginning of Bubble 2.0. Not often I find myself agreeing with him, but I did this time.

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Life & Death & Stuff

I watched ITV’s two part “Walk Away And I Stumble” last night and the night before. Perhaps not the best of dramas (though not bad), but I found it thought-provoking. Got me thinking about what I’d do if I only had a few months left.

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Freelance Pay

For what it’s worth, here’s my 2p for some rules of thumb for working out how much web freelancers should be charging…

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On Usability

Is it just me who thinks all this hype around usability is totally overblown? Not that usability isn’t important – it’s essential – but it should be a fundamental part of the design process, not some bolt-on that requires specialist external consultants. We shouldn’t be needing to draw attention to it – it should go without saying. Shame that’s not the case.

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Waiting For My New Phone

I’ve had an Orange SPV M2000 on order now for several weeks. Theoretically it will arrive on Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, ever since I requested my PAC code from Vodaphone so I could keep my existing mobile number when I switch to Orange, my reception has been, well, intermittent would be to put it politely.

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Setting Up A Home Studio

I’m in the process of turning my home office into a basic recording studio. I write songs in my spare time and decided it was about time I recorded them. Back in my university days I played in bands, had a great time and would have quite happily made that my career, but something called interactive media came along and distracted me. I really ought to get a band together, just for fun, but in the meantime I reckon there’s not much point in writing stuff if no-one gets to hear it, hence the home studio.

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