Why define the UX Tribe?

Is this an unproductive exercise to create false labels or to create consensus when there is none? I don’t think so- the risk we face is what Jesse James Garrett called the ‘death knell of division by job titles’. Here are some

  • User Experience Designer/ Architect
  • Information Architect
  • Interaction Designer
  • User Interface Designer

Not to mention Usability, User Research and other related titles. It all makes sense to me and I understand the subtleties- but its way too confusing for anyone outside the profession. Needless to say, this isn’t good branding and there is much value proposition lost as a result. Besides, Business executives don’t care about (often pedantic) differences between Information Architecture & Interaction Design.  I’m not saying that these branches should merge or these terms stop being used, but accepting that what we do is ‘User Experience Design’ is only a good thing.

Why not just call it Design, some argue? For one its too broad- well established divisions like Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Architecture already exist. More importantly, the right question to ask is- “is there really something new, unique, and especially useful“. The primary goals of IA, IxD etc are essentially the same- fulfill user goals in interactive products & make stuff easy and pleasurable to use .

Again, there are no hard lines- there are folks who strictly do IA or IxD, but the majority of us lie somewhere in between- why not simplify our message to the industry and take advantage of the full extent of our value proposition. The irony that we UX Designers pride ourselves in solving contextual problems for the user (the marketplace in this case) is not lost on me.

(Note: This is a continuing poll)

March 27, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Sign the ‘Its Just UX’ petition


“In his IA Summit 2009 closing plenary, Jesse James Garrett sounded the overdue death knell of division by job title. The information architect and the interaction designer are no more: we are all user experience designers, and we always have been. Amen.”

If you have an additional second, why not take this poll too? Go UX!

March 27, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

But….we’re multidisciplinary

Show me one profession that’s not multidisciplinary.

Different aspects of User Experience like Interaction Design, Information Architecture, Usability etc will continue to grow- and that’s great! But there is no reason why they shouldn’t coalesce under the UX umbrella. Sure there are differences between them (many are pedantic), but the commonalities are more compelling- which one of them is not about fulfilling user goals and making products easy to use? There are some IA’s who strictly do Taxonomies & Information Design, but most of them also do Process Flows, Wireframes & UI’s.

Take the medical profession for example. What if Surgeons, Cardiologists, Dermatologists etc start claiming they’re not Doctors? While we care about the differences between Information Architecture & Interaction Design, Business executives shouldn’t (and don’t). Simplifying enhances our value proposition. Why not do it?

(Note: This is a continuing poll)

March 25, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The UX Tribe- to be, or not to be?

We’re known as Interaction Designers, Information Architects, User Interface Designers, <insert favorite alphabet soup here>- but I believe that we’re all User Experience Designers, because we have the expertise and the skill set to fulfill user goals in complex interactive products. Its our primary responsibility to make stuff easy and pleasurable to use (credit: Whitney Hess)

We’re still evolving as a profession, heck we’re already one of the Best Careers for 2009 according to the fine folks at U.S News. Products like the iPhone are examples of how good User Experience can be a significant differentiator. Implementing the latest and greatest technologies and features won’t go far unless they solve a consumer problem.

So, what’s the catch? Well, we can’t decide what do we call ourselves! There have been more than a dozen names that have been floating around for years, but we’ve not been able to converge on one that we can all agree upon (a strong Designer trait!)

“This profession has a hard time agreeing on a name for itself. It’s called, for example, user experience specialist, interface designer, information architect, usability practitioner, user-centered design specialist, and usability manager” (US News)

Unfortunately, this has posed challanges on many fronts and is often an impediment to professional development. How many times have you had to explain why you’re not a Graphic Designer or a Web Designer?

Sure, there are differences between various branches, but I believe there is much to be gained by associating with the UX Tribe. This is an effort to explore what the UX community thinks. So- Do you believe in the UX Tribe?

(UX Tribe label credit: Andrew Hilton)


For the UX Tribe:

Against the UX Tribe:

(If you have other relevant readings on this topic, send an email to iyervish [at] gmail [dot] com)

March 23, 2009. User Experience Design. Leave a comment.