“User experience is a process of discovery, vision definition, strategy, planning, execution, measurement and iteration. It requires flexibility, and a willingness to be wrong until you are right.”
—Robert Hoekman Jr., in Smashing Magazine
I could not agree more. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection lately, and I’ve realized that my work in user experience (UX) is having an unexpected impact on my personal life.
Before I became a UX architect, I compartmentalized my life. I saw everything in black and white.
But working in UX has allowed me to see all the gray that exists in the world, and start to embrace it. Collaborating with people on my teams has challenged me to appreciate other points of view. It’s really interesting to realize where other people are coming from, and why. And performing user testing has allowed me to see over and over again that what one person believes to be extremely clear is routinely misinterpreted by another. Some things just aren’t as obvious as we think they are.
Another thing I’ve realized is that I have always been my biggest critic. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. But realizing that my perceptions are not always the same thing as reality, and that I’m capable of misinterpretation, has encouraged me to try to be less critical of myself.
At the same time, I have challenged myself to reflect on how the world perceives me. It turns out that people experience their relationships with each other in the same way that they experience the digital solutions we design. When I architect a new solution, I try to make the experience as clear and intuitive as possible, and make it easy for people to respond. In the same way, I can control how people interact with me based on the psychological cues I give off.
So I guess the bottom line is that I am working to be less introverted. I’m trying harder to open myself up to evaluation and change so that I can provide the best “user experience” for the people in my life.
You might not be a UX architect. But if you apply the principles of UX to your personal life, you might find that the world is a more interesting place than you thought it was, and that you really do get out of it what you put in.