UX is about the human experience. While it may have been envisioned to be around digital products, it needs to grow into to being about shaping the world of human experience into a more sustainable, holistic society. What is missing from a lot of software and application company’s visions around their interfaces is the intangibles. While UX research can often provide context about a user’s environment and experience of their product and service, I would argue that we can step even further out of that comfort bubble and into people’s outlooks on life. We can take a look at what factors, social, economic, political, spiritual affect how individual users of any systems respond to the world around them, with an interface just being one tiny factor of their every day living.
Lately, I have been questioning the why behind the digital age. While much of it is amazing, I also see the negative effects of connection and devices. We are so connected with people in remote places around the world, but we forget to connect with those that are sitting right next to us. We have begun to find ways of running away rather than interacting with the challenges and opportunities right in front of our eyes. The duality of the digital age is no different from the duality present in every human experience. However, the contrast of positive and negatives do give us insight as to possibility of change and advancements in the future.
I’ll just come out and say it: I actually want to have a broader impact on the world than simply from the perspective of a digital device. My guess is, this might resonate with some of you, also.
Does it matter if someone has a really great experience using an application at work, but they hate their job anyway? Will they even notice that their user interface is beautiful, usable, and makes their job a little less painful if their boss is really mean to them?
You might say that it is not a concern of a User Experience professional how happy people are at work, or when using an application. Not so. The culture of a society affects their interactions with an interface. An interface becomes far less meaningful and useful if the society and culture that use it are not fully present or engaged with their lives.
This is why, this year, I have stepped a bit out of my comfort zone of digital experiences and into the world of personal development and human experience. I have been exploring the limiting belief systems that stop most of us from being the people we wish to be in the world. I have been finding new ways to fulfill my creative nature while also broadening my role as a leader in the UX profession.
As a UX professional we have a unique opportunity to influence a company’s reasons why they do business. That alone is typically an uphill battle, even in the most open of organizations. Yet I would say that we also need to influence the human side of how people in the US and in different cultures behave as human beings. We need to consider how we set examples for living better, more well-rounded, happier lives. We need to encourage better life experiences, not just user interface experiences.
What I have realized is that it is up to me to set that example as a UX leader. I must live a life of authenticity. My personal life needs to gel with what I preach. If I say a product must be lean, well, I need to approach my life from that perspective as well. Just as a business cannot always know what is next, so too must I approach my life as an unfolding.
When people say that UX is a mindset and a strategy, they could not be more accurate. Life is an experience, one that we can choose how to interpret and how to react. What I do not know how to do yet is to explain that mindset to more leaders that are focused on certainty and roadmaps. As UX professionals we need to broaden our reach further beyond software and into the world around us. We need to find new and creative ways to be of service in the cause of better life experiences.