Once again, I read a designer’s post telling readers that “the user is no longer a spectator”.

How is this still a thing?

The user has never been a spectator.

Only when you start scratching beneath the surface of decoration to function are you really designing. And as soon as you are really designing, you are designing user experiences.

It’s not new.

What’s new is the complexity. As interactivity, from websites to games to apps, becomes more powerful, it can more fluidly respond to individual users. This requires more and more layers of planning, formal scenarios, and teamwork. User experience specialists become an imperative.

Photo, and user experience rant, by Penina

But even for a shop sign or printed brochure, if you are not thinking about your audience’s experience, you are not designing.

What materials will you use for the sign? Will you focus more on foot traffic or passing drivers? Will shoppers feel honored, reassured or intrigued as they pass by or under the sign? Will the brochure be a single, flat page? or will it fold, causing users to interact with it differently?

And books! How do you not interact with a book? Even refusing to pick it up and read it is a type of interaction.

Conversely, folks who don’t consider themselves designers but plan anything—from day out with friends to sales meeting to quilt—with their own or others’ experience in mind, are designing for ‘user’ experience. But the idea that almost everyone is already a designer is a topic for another day.

P.S. Hephaestus was the Greek god of craftsmen.


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