Saturday, May 16, 2009

User Experience Design is an Art, Not a Bottleneck

The New York Times had an article last week about Douglas Bowman's experience of working at Google as a designer. The focus of the article was how frustrated he became by not being able to have any design decisions approved without always having to provide data to back it up. He has left Google and is now the creative director at Twitter.

This story reminded me about how at Cooper design, Alan Cooper likes when designers have 2 pieces of rationale for every design decision. I agree with concept, but not implementing it as martial law. Years ago, User Interface departments would have Standards that development would have to follow. It was a bottleneck, so many places changed Standards to Guidelines to try and help remove the congestion. These days pattern libraries are helpful in getting user experience components shared, but not if in order to implement them you need to do research each and every time.

As in life, balance is needed when implementing a user experience design process. You need analytics, field studies, heuristic evaluation and common sense to help make good design decisions. So far Google has been successful by requiring analytics for all designs, but as they move into new product arenas we shall see if it is sustainable to take out the gut instincts of good UX designers.

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