September 4 2010

UX Bullshit

Ryan Carson recently wrote:

'UX Professional' is a bullshit job title. It's just a way to over-charge naive clients. All web designers should be UX pros

He followed up with some additional explanation on his thinkvitamin linkblog, where he redefines the role based on his own experience. Naturally I disagreed, and intended to write my response in the comments only — shock! — I’ve been blacklisted. Must have been something I said…

Anyway, here’s what I intended to write:

No. You’re quite wrong. And based on the kind of project you’ve been involved in, I’d wager you’re not even qualified to make this kind of emphatic statement.

If you’ve only ever worked in 3-man teams building throwaway projects ‘in 2 days’ then perhaps you could be forgiven for looking at your multi-disciplined colleagues and concluding that everybody has to be a jack of all trades to succeed. Out in the World, web professionals are far more specialised, and those that know better are reading this post and shaking their heads.

I find myself debating whether or not this is important enough to devote any more brain-minutes to. Ryan is, in the grand scheme of things, not that important — he hasn’t directly contributed to the field significantly, and he comes out with this kind of baffling counter-intuitive logic on a fairly regular basis.

But then I remember how I started out in this field. It was more or less by accident, and being the nascent industry it was back then, a lot of the things we take for granted nowadays as tools or resources for learning simply didn’t exist. Anybody starting out today has almost too many materials to pick from, including a whole host of red herrings who crowd out the good with bad, uninformed advice…. well, you can see where this is going.

I don’t doubt Ryan for his passion and enthusiasm (although he could perhaps channel it a little more productively than blocking people whose opinions he disagrees with) but I do doubt his appreciation of what divisions of responsibility work in the real world.