First encounters with UX

06.08.2009 | Author: Frederik Myhr
Before I started working at FatDUX, I didn’t know of such terms as ”user experience” or  ”usability”. Of course I had had both good and bad experiences with both – I just wasn’t aware of the fact that I was dealing with stuff that people actually write books about. But more importantly, neither did I know that a large group of people was lacking this knowledge, and because of that, caused me countless moments of frustration and hair pulling. I do have very healthy hair, but I see now, that it is most likely just due to good genes, and definitely not thanks to bad designers.

What I quickly discovered though was, that the “not knowing” part in most cases really is the criteria of success. “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug made this very clear to me, and I can only give my best recommendations to newcomers in the field.

One of the things I love most about being a part of all this, is that my dread for failing as I use new stuff, is completely vanished. The worry I sometimes had, looking stupid not knowing which button to push or which way to go, has been replaced with this new feeling of being enlightened.

I conceive myself as rather competent when it comes to logic and common sense, and even though, all kinds of stuff from websites to electronics to road signs, have left me feeling slow and incompetent numerous times. I’m pretty sure I will never stop pulling my hair in aggravation every once in a while, but instead of feeling stupid, I’m merely intrigued – intrigued and urging to pinpoint the wrongdoings and suggest a better solution.

There is however a downside to this as well: as much as I hated being the laughee – an easy victim for not knowing how to use a specific item - just as much did I love being the laugher. I could of course give a rat’s ass and just keep demeaning my friends anyway, but nobody likes the double standards-guy.

Ignorance is bliss
Our job here at FatDUX is to design great user experiences. Sometimes we do this from scratch, and sometimes we correct other’s mistakes. Correcting mistakes is a discipline that requires a targeted search for errors, and this is done by using your error-goggles – goggles it’s crucial for you to take off at the end of the day. Because wearing these in your everyday life will surely cause your brain to overload.

Let me try to exemplify this in a different context:

Besides from being an intern here at FatDUX, I work as a bartender. What I have discovered along the way is that my standards and expectations have increased in step with my expertise. That means that I’m quite likely to be a mean critic when I’m out for cocktails myself. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss! If I hadn’t developed a taste for expensive whisky, I might as well pay 10€ instead of 20€ for a manhattan.

An expert of all things
I guess what I’m trying to point out is true for most occupations, but working in the field of user experience must be one of the most extreme cases. I mean, as a bartender, I can at least limit my criticism to the cocktail bar. UX has no perimeter. Weather you are using the toilet, drugs, a hat or Windows Vista, you are being a victim of a user experience. Anything can apply to the term. A very overwelming thought given the fact that certain people are experts.

I, myself, am no near being an expert as far as UX goes, and that’s what scares me the most; I’ve only just looked through the peephole, and yet, the analyzing-everything-era of my life has already begun. I fear ending up a grumpy old hind sighted man.

On the other hand, I know my boss Eric Reiss pretty well by now. He is no grumpy old man, but an expert indeed. I guess he has found a way to balance out these things – I sure hope I will too.



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  3. Tough to find that balance, Frederik. Mostly, it means holding back and NOT bitching to family and friends about stuff that needs bitching about.

    Thank goodness for blogs. And thanks for taking the plung and writing such a fine post in your second language.

    Comment by Eric Reiss - 14:16 06.08.2009
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  5. On the other hand, I know my boss Eric Reiss pretty well by now. He is no grumpy old man, but an expert indeed. I guess he has found a way to balance out these things – I sure hope I will too.

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