From UX To RX
I’m sure you’re wondering what RX refers to — and I’ll get to that, but first: I’d like to dig a bit into a brief history of UX so that we can understand why I’m making an argument to evolve the discipline at all. I promise! — I won’t leave you hanging.
It’s hard to imagine that empathizing with your customers wasn’t a thing directors or executives cared about when developing products — but to a large extend, this shift in philosophy brand new in historical terms. In the past 10 years, User Experience Design has emerged from the shadows of the product development process as not only a respected discipline, but a fundamental one that separates industry leaders from the competition.
UX as a discipline is now inextricably associated with software design, which makes sense given that it was the infamous Don Norman, working at Apple in the 90’s who was the first to bear the professional title of a “User Experience Architect”. In-spite of our tech-centric lens to just about everything these days, it wasn’t the software or hardware industry that gave birth to User Experience Design as a field of practice.
Beyond ancient civilizations who were designing cities, products, spaces and entertainment experiences for their people, I think that the original User Experience Designers were the small, locally known coffee shops, diners and hangouts in our cities. They are those “gems” that you only find out about from the locals in whatever city you’re travelling through. It’s impossible to name this places and it’s really besides the point to do so.
The point is —
These small establishments were hyper local, understood the products & experiences that there customers were looking for, and developed strong relationships with them that drove the engagement far beyond the artifacts involved in the value exchange.
What worries me is about the direction of our field today is that in our attempt to operationalize the disciple of UX into everyday business practices, we’ve oversimplified core principles and thus narrowed the scope of our potential.
We have advance the field beyond User Experience and towards the Relationship Experience.
When I started @youxventures — I wanted our firm to push the boundaries of what it meant to stand behind the statement of being a “human centred design firm”, but three years into our business, looking beyond our clients, partners, projects and impact: I can’t help but feel like we’re part of a giant guilty culture that’s been complicit in allowing UX to stop short of it’s potential as a discipline and rest comfortably on the processes & tools that have led us to the profession we’re in.
Personas are great tools in the design process — but I’d like to see our field developing deep relationships a small subset of customers and fight harder for those messy face to face interactions.
Journey Maps are awesome storytelling aids — but I’d like to see our field mapping the long term relationship journey between a business and a customer, not just the path to purchase.
Rapid Prototyping & Design Sprints are so much fun! — But I’d like our field to try incubating & prototyping relationships as well that can lead to exponential value for both the business and all their stakeholders across.
The experiences we are all creating for one another are important and deserve thoughtful consideration. It would be amazing to see more of us working in the field championing an appreciation of the relationships we are manufacturing. In a way — we need to shift our collective focus in the Design industry from helping startups and businesses design user friendly and beautiful products to designing friendly, healthier relationships with their customers, teams and themselves.