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Friday
Jan112013

An argument for ubiquitous UX 

“All the design jobs are for UX.” Someone said that to me today. My response?  

Good! They should be. 

Forget the ancient argument that web designers should know how to code. There’s merit there, but what good is a code-enabled designer who overlooks usability and function in favor of....god knows what. Pretty colors and great type? Melding UX and visual design makes sense--more sense than mandating that all creatives learn how to generate orderly, functioning code. When I hear that more and more interactive design positions are becoming hybrid UX/interactive design jobs, I want to stand up and cheer for the evolution of the web. 

Cheer myself out of a job, because I’m not a visual designer. 

Anyway....lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of UX, where the jobs are, and where they should be. 

I’ve come to a shocking conclusion: UX needs a dance partner. 

Visual design has to include UX. UI developers (aka front-end coders) have to be able to elevate code into graceful, usable experiences. Web copywriters are often really content strategists, who are siblings of the information architects and incestuously close cousins to those wireframe-wielding UX architects. Those business analysts/requirement jockeys? They’d have an easier time if they could sketch their own visions. Then there are UX researchers, whom I’ve yet to meet in the wilds of digital, because in the web industry they always seem to be doing something else (like your wireframes or IA). 

Where does this leave the person who only does wireframes? Who lives in a grayscale world? Whose prototypes don’t include “real” code? Or weirder yet, the mysterious “UX strategist” who...strategizes? 

I’m not sure. 

But what I’m not saying is that UX people should know how to code. Or that UX people should know how to design. Or know how to design, code, be UX, be IA, write and be totally comfortable with the research component. You know, a unicorn. That’s just not realistic. But what is realistic is being cross-functional in SOMETHING. And I bet you all are. It’s just not in your job description, or you haven’t realized that it’s a part of you (or you mistakenly think everyone else has your mad talent).

So, can anyone teach me how to be a visual designer? Anyone? 

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