Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A matter of doubt in UX


Here’s a caveat: I crowdsourced this topic and so I’m just fulfilling my side of that bargain. Here’s another caveat: I’ve had a couple of drinks and so I’m probably a bit shouty. I can provide more caveats. However, despite those caveats, I can vouch for the integrity of the words I’m typing here as the truth as I see it based on the experiences I’ve had and the work I’ve done. Which is about as far as I can trust anybody who talks about UX these days.

That’s not to say that those people who I follow, converse with, pay to see, acknowledge or otherwise reference as UX professionals can’t also vouch for the words they say and the positions they adopt and the propositions they make and the work the refer to. It’s just that I’ve no way of validating it. I personally know and work with a very small number of UX professionals, notwithstanding the ones who have passed me by in other jobs, countries and lives and it’s only that very small number that I can honestly say that when they tell me they’ve done something and that they learned something and that it might be useful to me that I know it to be true.

In of itself, that’s not really much of an issue. I love a case study. I love good examples. I love it when people describe to me a learning experience by way of exposing their own fallibility. I can grok all these things. I like ‘here’s what I did’. There’s a solidarity in that openness and a learning outcome for all of us. The truth is self-evident in the telling of the story, bourne of which is a mandate to formulate recommendation and proposition.

Where I’m able to give less credence is when I’m simply directed to a method or practice, a voice or opinion, which is dependent on an assumed qualification to do so. Even if I’m taken with the proposition, without qualification, I have to question the validity if I have absolutely no idea what you’ve done, what you do, or whether you’re any good at it. I end up applying that rule of doubt whether you’re relatively new to UX or whether you’ve been to every IA summit, like, ever, because it makes no difference to me if the perception of your authority is so very institutionalised that what you say must be true. Mostly, it just means that you can say it very well, and that’s all I can honestly evaluate.

All of which is, of course, a circular argument, since there is absolutely no reason why you should afford me the courtesy that I deny others: just to take my word for it. But next time somebody tells you that ‘failing is great practice’, take a moment to challenge that statement. Why is it great practice? Why should you believe them? Next time someone tells you that you that ‘waterfall is a dead model’, take a moment to challenge that statement. How can they justify that? What have they done to support that position? Next time somebody tells you that ‘you’ve defined UX incorrectly’, well, good luck with that one.

In the end, this is really a minor issue I’ve chosen to explode into some dribbling manifesto, but the central issue I still believe to be problematic. I hear you, I rather like you, but really, I don’t know you. It’s not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of doubt.

2 comments:

  1. You've defined 'minor issue' incorrectly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. aye. polite first draft. although there is no edit.

    ReplyDelete