You’ve heard it all before: design is one of the fastest-growing professions today. Just look at the popularity of bootcamps like General Assembly, or Chicago’s own Designation Labs. But a Google search for “design jobs” gets results for everything from furniture designers to sound and video designers to UX/UI design “unicorns”.
Designing for user experiences sometimes necessitates thinking about all of those things at the same time, whether we’re designing a website or designing user experience teams within a larger organization. While Fuzzy Math is an expert at both, we wondered… what’s the best way to explain what exactly it is that we do?
So we asked our designers just that. How do you explain your job to your family and friends?
If that interests them, I might talk about building visual systems that can adapt for different types of content across different devices, or choosing colors and fonts that are legible by people with low vision or color blindness. How what I do is just as much about problem-solving and providing access to information as it is about making something “look cool.”
I ask them to remember a time they were frustrated or couldn’t understand a website/application. I talk about how we design for the intended human who will be using the site in question. We want to know their needs, wants, and priorities. These insights inform us how to build wireframes which are essentially blueprints that we build from the feedback we receive (that’s the UX side.)
Once wireframes are done, the visuals team takes over to use our knowledge of color theory and hierarchy to further reinforce areas that we’d like the user to pay attention to. That’s skimming the surface, but if they want to know more I’ll go back and go into further detail.
But the best way I've found to explain what we do is have an exchange starting with a simple question:
Me: "What's your job and do you use a computer for it?"
Them: "I am a _____"
Me: "Cool. What software do you use every day?"
Them: "I use software Y."
Me: "Do you like software Y? Well if not, the company that makes software Y would hire Fuzzy Math to do research with people like you to understand how to make it easier for you. And then we design it.”
Them: “What do you mean by design?”
Me: “Like the actual screen you see in from of you. We design that.”
Of course if they don't use a computer or are still confused I go back throwing out random words until something sticks.
There is usually an “ah ha!” moment when I mention how we talk to end users of the software and try to design for their needs. I’ll usually get a comment about something they have to use at work that is the worst, or maybe about how they hate some new feature in a mobile app, and I mention how that company could hire Fuzzy Math and we’d make it better. We both nod and the world is a wonderful place for a couple shining moments. Other times they ask me to help troubleshoot an issue with their computer and I yearn for the days when I worked at the Brookfield Zoo.
So, how well do those explanations fit? We also asked our families how they describe what we do.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
How do you explain UX to non-UXers?