Not that long ago, intricate designs were almost seen as witchcraft – things that magically sprouted from a creative brain overnight. And while I hate to admit it, designers are to blame. For years we gave the illusion that the complex visual process could easily emerge under the restrains of the classic ‘just design it quickly’ parameters – while secretly performing the substantial design methodology behind closed doors.
Thankfully, we’ve now lifted the curtains and legitimised the complex conscious work that goes into every design. However, this newfound awareness has given birth to a proliferation of specialisations that sit under the burgeoning design umbrella. This means to avoid the trap of oversimplifying it, we’ve created an explosion of roles – like User Experience (UX) designer, User Interface (UI) designer, graphic designer, web designer, stylist, front-end designer, back-end designer, finished artist, animator and art director – to help us understand the complex design practice.
So the new challenge now is peeling back the many layers in the design process and seeing how they relate to each other.
The design duet
Take UX and UI for example. Ever since they joined forces on the design scene, rumours have circled their controversial relationship. From confronting rivals to intimate ‘partners in crime’, the polemic couple have blurred the lines between design and strategy.
Coming from a traditional graphic design background, I remember having to decode the real identity behind the duet. But it didn’t’ take long to realise their association wasn’t so mysterious after all. Their ‘in vogue’ acronyms were actually just a relabelling of old rituals – part of a hermetic practice performed by designers like me, well before ‘UX’ and ‘UI’ were even a thing.
Far from being different entities, UX and UI share a tight connection. While UI is the actual materialisation of a certain product (either visually or physically), UX contemplates the complex thread of conscious decisions that shape the physical product – both before and after its creation. You might say that UI is the destination and UX is the journey.
The evolution challenge
These days, UX is mainly associated with the creation of emerging and permanently evolving technologies. While the final outcome is a highly technologic product, the user experience will always be at its core. So these alien-like technologies are actually the result of contemplating, analysing, processing and interpreting how humans interact with the world around them.
With the current speed of innovation, the latest technologies we referred to at the beginning of this blog may now already be old. As part of their inevitable nature, they are constantly being adopted, evolved and/or replaced by newer discoveries almost overnight.
So if UX is based on human behaviours, the big question is, ‘how do we apply our knowledge of past human behaviour to future products that we can’t determine or test yet?’.
And the never-ending pursuit of solving this equation happens to be one of the main drivers of the creative, challenging, ever-innovative and constructively-disruptive group we call the Yes Lab.