An ode to the slash
Slash you have done me well up until now. For your efforts in helping me to pay the bills, you deserve a bow. But the time has come for you to go, for if you don’t, the real value of UX the world will never know.
The slash… if you don’t know what it is, you should. You have, after all, seen it many times. As the job posting emails roll in, and as they go up on the community and hiring sites, the slash is there… glaring its way through. It has made its way around the industry. From HR to the CEO… from designer to developer, the slash has been seen far and wide.
So what is this slash that I speak of? Well, let me show it to you.
<Begin example email>
Hello Lis. Our company is currently looking for a
Do you know anyone that could help?
The slash is that dreadful character that we see in job titles for businesses hiring what they “think” is a UX designer. It is that mark that shows up between UI and UX as if they were the same thing. Where did it come from?
Unfortunately, the slash was added some time ago to help explain to businesses what the UX role is. By coupling UX with a familiar term, “UI”, businesses could easily see that the UX person is one that helps make interfaces easy to use (oh, and maybe they do some other side stuff too, like ensure your product will be used by your customers… but I digress). The slash was also a cop out… a shortcut to “getting” UX work (think “If I have UX in my title and I only do interface work I’m still a UX Designer”), and, unfortunately for UXers, adding it helped the two terms be viewed as the same thing.
However, As many of us know, UX and UI are not the same thing! UI work is a part of the UX Umbrella, but creating a usable interface does not mean you have designed for a good user experience. Further, to me, if you are hiring a UI/UX designer, you are probably looking for a UI designer who knows some usability practices. This is a far cry from all that a valuable UX designer does. Of course, this is not to say that UI Designers are not “as good” or “as important” as UX Designers… they are just two different, but related, disciplines.
Note: There have been many people who have written about the difference between UX and UI, but perhaps my favorite is UX is not UI by Erik Flowers. I encourage you to take a read to come up to speed if you are unaware that the two disciplines are not the same.
So now that we are all on the same page, you may be thinking “who cares that we have the slash? How can that possibly hurt the UX profession… it’s just a little mark on the screen?”. Or is it?
Accepting the slash, taking jobs with the slash in it, not speaking up and educating others when we see the slash, and not being aware that the slash can be our enemy are all just other ways that all of us let The Wireframe Machine define User Experience Design. This means that if we allow the slash to exist, we are allowing UI and UX to be seen as the same thing.
My plea today, is that we all start to work to get rid of this freaking slash. I think this can be done in a few ways (ways that I have mentioned before), but the root of all of it is in UX people knowing and educating others to the real value of having us around.
By removing the slash, by correcting people on it, we start to more clearly define the difference between UX and UI, which is a task that everyone should start to take on, from business, to design, to development. Why? Because in this the Age of Experience we all need the real value from UX in order for our businesses to find success. And, defining UX and UI roles with “UI/UX” just continues to hold all of us back.