What makes us feel happy at work? Choosing the career path or switch, we ask and answer tons of questions and try to analyze the variety of factors. No wonder: that choice determines our lifestyle, relations, personal and professional growth for the big part of everyday life. Recently, we’ve run into this sort of question at Quora which sounded like «How do User Experience designers (Mobile and Web) provide value to humanity?» and became the ground for today’s article.
The question is definitely great and the answer, in particular, can be important for the young specialists who are considering this career. Not only in terms of the humanity, but also in terms of yourself adding something to the global progress. Whatever people tell about money as the key point, in creative spheres there is a variety of research showing that designers need the feeling of creative growth and participation in global progress not less than a good salary. One of the articles in Harvard Business Blog mentions three big reasons that are common in making people happy at work: a meaningful vision of the future, a sense of purpose and great relationships. Specifying the sense of purpose, they state: «People want to feel as if their work matters, and that their contributions help to achieve something really important. And except for those at the tippy top, shareholder value isn’t a meaningful goal that excites and engages them. They want to know that they — and their organizations — are doing something big that matters to other people.» Being aware of the destinations and seeing themselves the part of globally important processes, people tend to make the choice of a particular career as good for them.
Without getting dip into the sphere, you can see UX designers like people working out endless flows of screens. At the first sight for many people who don’t deal with all the aspects, this job looks neither interesting nor creative. And the aspect of its value for humanity also seems to be not so obvious. Here in Tubik, we’ve been lucky to see the sphere of UX design high and deep, in all its diversity, creating digital products for the companies worldwide. And what we’ve seen and taken part in, makes us certain to answer: UX designers do provide a considerable value for humanity.
Before starting the list of aspects for this value, let’s check the terminology. In one of the issues of UI/UX Design Glossary, we described UX in the following way: it is the general attitude and emotional feedback that user has at different stages of using the product. In terms of digital products, such as websites or applications, UX is a comprehensive term involving all the possible stages of user engagement. UX is based on several key factors such as usability, utility, desirability, attractiveness, the speed of work etc. If all the logic and possible issues of product implementation into real life are analyzed and designed properly, it forms positive user experience which means that users are able to satisfy their needs in a fast, easy and pleasant way. Positive user experience remains one of the strongest factors of retaining users.
Working on the UX for a digital product such as a website or mobile app, UX designers have to concentrate on such aspects as:
— usability (the product is convenient, clear, logical and easy to use)
— utility (the product provides useful content and solves users’ problems)
— accessibility (the product is convenient for different categories of users)
— desirability (the product is attractive and problem-solving, it retains users and creates the positive experience which they are ready to repeat).
All of the mentioned positions present the value for people in terms of particular operations done day in and day out as well as global processes in different spheres like commerce and business, education, management, housekeeping, communications and so on, and so forth. On the ground of everything above mentioned, we could assume several points of the value which UX designers provide to humanity creating a wide variety of digital products.
What are the values brought by UX designers?
1. They support fast, easy and productive communication worldwide via products like various messengers, social networks etc. Communication is one of the key reasons why people turn to websites and apps, and its flow has a great impact on user’s life, from personal chats with family and friends to professional online conferences and business negotiations. Creating user experience for this purpose, designers have to study the needs of the audience and offer the appropriate solutions which will make the product helpful for getting in touch with other people.
2. They support international collaboration working over successful experience for apps enabling productive work within a team scattered around. Today the world has a number of applications and tools enabling professionals to work effectively from different places. That creates new business contacts and supports a great variety of international projects. And by the way, sets the ground for creating new workplaces, raising profits and developing welfare which, no doubt, sound like credible value. The platforms, apps, tools and software enabling specialists from different cities, countries, and continents to operate in a big number of professional activities, all have user experience designers behind them.
3. They support everyday life of millions of people with digital products that solve actual problems (like to-do lists or apps for taking notes), inform (like news websites or different blogs), and entertain (like apps for listening to music and watching films as well as tons of games). Every day, using quite basic and simple things like alarms, news platforms, video apps or music players, most users don’t even imagine that simplicity of those interfaces and navigation which makes all the flow intuitive are the result of thorough work which takes many hours. User experience designers are the ones who have to build these products helpful and pleasant-to-use on the balance of applied content, target audience and business goals.
4. They support and improve core spheres of human life like health care, education, commerce, and self-expression. In this aspect, UX designers are the contributors into different fields of human growth and development. They create the flows of interactions and layouts for educational websites, applications used in medical treatment and health care, data analysis, technical support and other directions. Add to it the variety of specialized platforms where people share their creative outcome like artworks, music or pieces of writing — all of them need experience and interactions appropriate for these needs.
5. They make technology more accessible which means closer to people of different ages and nationalities, levels of education and tech literacy, physical and mental abilities or disabilities. User research is one of the core parts of UX design, and one of the objectives is finding the solutions for problems, which could make using the product hard and tricky for some categories of users. Diligent UX designers aim at creating products which will be inclusive and accessible for users of different abilities.
6. They support the concept of non-stop learning through life via educational and information resources. Motion is life, and motion through the ocean of information around is not an easy part of it. People are born with natural curiosity, the wish of getting knowledge and being informed. UX designers contribute in this eternal human movement creating flows at which users, readers, learners will not get lost under the tons of data. They apply the techniques and methods of information architecture to make the interfaces organized and problem-solving for their readers.
7. They respond to the human need of harmony and aesthetic satisfaction finding the ways to make digital products both useful and beautiful. There are many people who support the idea that digital products of today should be minimalist and purely functional. However, life is not just like that: practice shows that people want to both solve the problems and feel aesthetic satisfaction using apps and websites. The balance of these things is included in responsibilities of UX designers.
8. They support the products which simplify and automate decent mechanic processes saving time for activities applying creative human energy. More and more products nowadays, including chatbots, are able to automate simple things, for example, scheduling, computing, checking grammar in writing, analyzing and organizing received data etc. Those things allow people to accomplish some tasks faster and easier and free their time for more creative tasks which machines cannot do. This is one more side of positive user experience.
9. They keep the balance between the rational and irrational parts of human life and activity. UX designers work on the crossroads of rational and emotional sides of human life: creating apps and websites, they have to consider both logical thinking and typical interaction models as well as emotional background which can greatly influence user behavior.
10. They make beauty working and logical as well as they make simple operations beautified and pleasant to the human eye. No special comments are needed. UX designers know how to get the efficient combination of beauty and functionality, doing it in the way which the particular product and audience require.
Surely, this list is not full as well as the issue is not so purely positive. There are many aspects of the job of UX designers, some of which are inspiring while the others are challenging or confusing. Still, we suppose the given positions are a good ground to believe that the job of UX designer is the one creating real value which has plenty of shades and tones. On the other hand, this variety of values added by the representatives of the given professional field brings out the number of responsibilities for the job, which should be also considered and kept in mind.
Life of UX designers is not the life of a magician flying in silver clouds and saving the world with every move of a hand. No, it’s a flow of rigorous research and analysis, creative effort and review of the slightest details — and many other things to mention, as well as in any other job. However, that is definitely the job that brings something precious for the humanity of today and tomorrow.
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