In talking with fellow UXer Shaun Rance, he brought up a great point regarding user experience professionals and the need for them to learn new online technologies. I’ve been reflecting on this point for some time, and couldn’t agree more with his reasoning for doing so.
His thoughts were basically: if we don’t learn new technologies, what they are, how they work, and really understand them; then we as UX professionals cannot help our business and developer colleagues understand the most appropriate ways to use these new technologies. Without our expertise and filtering, these new technologies will be implemented just for popularity or other random reasons and without thought given to the experience they provide to the user.
A great example that Shaun used involves all of the implementations of augmented reality that we’ve seen as of late. There have been a ton of implementations, but only a few that provide great experiences and are, more importantly, useful to someone. Imagine that there were more UX teams working in this space and helping to craft the experience behind how the technology is used! Now I know that a lot of times the technology is invented before we are brought in; however, closing that time frame, from invention to UX, is done by us learning more about the technology as soon as we can.
Personally, in my work, I see the benefits of learning new technologies all the time. There have been countless meetings when a client has told me about a technology that is just perfect for what they are trying to do. More often than not, it is not (And they usually don’t always know what they are trying to do… the contents of a future post perhaps). I take it as my responsibility as a user experience designer to be ahead of the curve in order to talk these people off the ledge and show them how the technology they are looking at should be used, and how that either matches or does not match their needs. Usually, they see the value in what I’m saying, and work to change their implementation plan.
The main point of what I’m trying to say is that we should be ahead of the curve as much as we can be. We need to be reaching out all around us in order to find new technologies that people are using and how they are using them. How those uses work and how they fail. Ok I know what you’re thinking, “Lis, we already do that!” Yes, maybe (hopefully) but do you know why? Well that’s the reason why, not just because you like technology or digital, not just because you love designing for users and want to see what’s coming next, but most importantly to be able to help stop the poor use of these incredible technologies that are introduced to us daily. Doing so enables you to provide enjoyment to your users, and to be great at what you do.