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The Myths of UX Design/ Product Design/Whatever They Call It This Week

As with my other “myth” article, it starts with me reading an essay, frothing at the mouth a bit, running out of characters on Twitter and ending up here where I can type more than 140 characters.

#1 “UX designers focus almost entirely on interfaces”

This myth is prevalent because it is often true. There are dozens of job listings for a UX/UI designer as if the company doesn’t care what you call yourself, as long as they get an interface out of it. But pretty is as pretty does, and a UX designer must design that pretty interior NOT just the exterior.

  • Interaction Design: how the system behaves including feedback systems.
  • Information Architecture: how data is ordered and expressed as information to users.
  • User Interface (UI): how the user accesses all the glory listed out above, including affordances such as buttons and dropdowns.
    Sometimes this job is shared with graphic design and copywriters, other times you’re it. (Side note: if you don’t have a writer on staff, please don’t make the engineer write error messages. Words are part of the UI and you should be good at it.)

#2 You can’t Design an Experience

I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole, so:

  • Per Se/French Laundry
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy (I’m not discussing the Hobbit movies with you either)
  • GAMES! Monument Valley, Journey, Dance Central, even Dots and Threes. Go read about MDA.

#3 UX Designers are the User Advocate

This is such a dangerous one.

  1. It places the design in conflict with the business, instead of both collaborating to find a solution that serves the user and the business.
  2. It can create a sense of entitlement and disregard to other’s insights, for example marketing, data mining, or customer service who see other aspects of the user’s experience. (I have seen this)
  3. Yes, sometimes you are the only person at the company who cares about the user. But that's probably because they are a bad company, and they will probably go out of business so might as well start job hunting now.

“Never work for a company that doesn’t like its users”
Laura Klein
“As soon as you get that wiff of contempt, get out of there.”
Kate Rutter
On “What Is Wrong with UX” Podcast

#4 UX Designers make things pretty, like Apple.

See #1.

  1. Sprinkling some UX on things is a pig-lipstick exercise.

#5 The UX designer doesn’t exist, because no one can do all that.

… no one can do all those things as well as a team of specialists.


There was one more line in Raph’s article that bugged me, and since I have never heard it anywhere else, I can’t really call it a myth. But I can still rant.

Written by

Designing business, and the business of design.

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