The UX of Things…

About 3 months ago, I signed up for a UX Design course with General Assembly (GA), and with that I really hoped to be able to narrow the gap between the idea of branding and how UX performs as a methodology and process. I’m a little bit closer to an understanding, but I’m certain there’s more to learn. This is by no fault nor indication of the quality of the course at GA, because I will say a lot of valuable knowledge was taught, and Tuesday & Thursdays for me will a little bit less exciting. If you’re looking to take up a course, I highly recommend learning more about UX. I’m speaking to everyone when I say this, UX is absolutely useful for anyone.

Now, I’m not going to spend this post in praise about my UX course, because I’ll likely do that after I complete the course (this Thusday, Feb 12th). I want to express a little bit about my feelings towards how companies in Hong Kong particularly, have this burning desire to hire anyone UX these days.

I find that UX is like a buzzwords these days. It’s like if you’re not talking about it, you’re behind, and you automatically become an outcast or something. My gripe with this situation isn’t because it’s so in demand, who would be complaining right? My problem with it is, is that a vast majority of the companies/people hiring these positions haven’t the slightest clue what UX is. How can you look for a candidate to fill a position that you know nothing about? Isn’t that ludicrous?

So instead, those that are hiring, are looking for what the UX community commonly calls this person as a Unicorn. Yes a Unicorn. I grew up in the 80’s, and I consumed a lot of cartoons, namely that of My Little Pony. And when I think of Unicorns, I think of My Little Pony. Why? For one, it’s already a mythical animal and two, My Little Pony characters all had their own special powers. So why am I going off on a tangent and talking about My Little Ponies? Have I lost my mind? Let’s take a quick look at your typical job posting in Hong Kong for a UX Designer:

Responsibilities:

  • Work closely with product manager and development team, to:
  • Design the look & feel and navigation flow for web/mobile application
  • Create interaction design for web/mobile application
  • Document the design guideline for application
  • Develop prototype with HTML5, AJAX, CSS, JQuery and JavaScript
  • Participate in system testing, quality control, and technical documentations for the systems
Requirements:
  • 3 years solid experience in web application design, preferably with experience working for web portals
  • Have good knowledge of user experience design
  • Proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator
  • Knowledge of CSS3, HTML5 and JQuery
  • Organized, self-motivated and independent
  • Excellent command of written English and Chinese.

Do you see it? Do you see a My Little Pony? The posting is looking for a UX designer, that can do research, design, and develop front end. As if it wasn’t bad enough when the web blew up, and everyone started hiring Web Designers that could design and code (ok, some of these people exist and they’re awesome, but the justification was clearly not there when they’re offering 15k/month), they’re tacking on an extra requirement of research to the mix! I guess my biggest issue here, is when such companies are looking for their Unicorn, they should see it as a Unicorn. When you look at something rare and nearly impossible to find, you respect it, and you provide it what it deserves (*cough*a proper salary at the very least*cough*).

Let’s not repeat the mistake of treating this as the “trendy” thing to do now when hiring. Let’s have at least a basic understanding of what UX means to your organization and how the advent of an individual with UX skills will help bring your business forward. You know, it’s not hard to understand what UX means, because at the core of it, if you just actually look at the words that make up the acronym; User EXperience. Doesn’t that make sense? It’s about how the person interacting with your product or service feels and experiences it. It’s a very logical explanation, and a very logical reason to how it can improve your business. If you understand what your customers want, need or find difficult, you go about finding and developing solutions to solve them! It’s so simple to understand!

So great, you understand the basis of UX, that’s already a huge leap forward. Now decide if you’re looking for a Unicorn, or a UX designer with visual skills or someone that can code. If you must hire a Unicorn, at least give them the respect they deserve, and recognize just how impossibly rare these people are!

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