Follow up to “Designers Are Wimps”
In one of my earlier posts, “Designers Are Wimps”, I wrote about the need for us to start earning the respect that we, as UX Designers, deserve. Currently, we are in a place where other parts of our organizations, as well as our clients, view us simply as a team of resources that will design the interface for the product being built or enhanced. They do not, at least on a large scale, include UX as part of the larger product conversations. This is obviously something we talk about a great deal, and it is something we’ve all been talking about wanting to change.
We’re also aware of the problems with this lack of respect for UX. We know that without it we are unable to “move up” the organizational food chain. The problem is not just that we don’t have “power” but it is more that there isn’t a user advocate sitting at the decision table, and because of this, the company is making unbalanced organizational & product decisions that favor the business or technology, but not the customer. This is a balance that we need to start shifting.
One way to start to be respected, as I mentioned in the previous post, is to start to earn the respect that we want by highlighting our value to the appropriate teams and people. But another way came to me first, from a comment that was made by bada$$ developer/designer Danny Hotea in the article’s comments, and second, as I was partaking in one of my favorite past times… catching up on past episodes of Khloe & Lamar. Yes, that’s right, I’m letting the cat out of the bag… I am a bad TV junkie, and yes, I probably need help. But, that is neither here nor there. I was watching this particular episode, and in it Lamar’s brother-in-law and his best friend were fighting over his attention. (I know this is hard to read, but trust me there is a lesson here) In the closing interview, Lamar acknowledges that he is glad his two friends are learning to respect each other… and then he says something that reminded me of our own situation: “Respect is something that… everybody always wants it, but everybody doesn’t realize that you have to give it.” This quote stopped me in my tracks, because quite frankly this is a point that we don’t always think about. UXers are usually the underdogs in most conversations around features, scope, etc. Thus, we are usually on the defensive about proving our point and advocating for our user. But, just like we have to earn respect, we also have to be sure to give it. That means respecting, recognizing, internalizing and using the viewpoints of our business, marketing, IT, whichever partners. The idea being that by giving others the respect that they hold back from us, there will be no reason for them not to return that same respect, as long as we are coming to these conversations well informed and with good points.
So, the outcome of giving respect is simple, our teams will start to note this and give us more respect in return. Instead of rolling their eyes when we bring up the user’s needs, they will stop and listen to what we have to say a little more each and every time. They will become more like teammates and less like enemies, because if you respect someone, it is harder to tear them down. Therefore, the change starts with you. To get the respect that you as a UXer as well as you as a professional deserves, you must first take a look at how and if you are giving that respect to others. Although this might seem like giving in, it is really being the better professional and better person. Sometimes we have to make these types of compromises if we want to get ourselves heard and get our design solutions out there so they can make the product better for our users.