This week I spent an enjoyable and illuminating Monday at a new event, UX People run by the lovely folks at Zebra People.
While I am not a user experience professional, it's good to hear the latest thinking.
It strikes me that everyone in UX is pretty much in the same boat. It is still an evolving discipline. And beyond the high level principles of getting to know your users and watching what they do etc, the specifics of how to do UX really well are open to debate.
Of course, for many in the industry, this is what excites them about it.
One of the coffee-break debates was around the relationship between UX and marketing. Some were talking about a recent blog post (which I think is this one) and taking radically opposing sides.
For me UX and marketing are virtually inseparable. Even if we're talking about non-profits and informational sites, at some level we are still selling an idea or a course of action. It might not be marketing in the strictly commercial sense, but it is marketing all the same.
UX or UB?
When I think of user experience, I tend to view it as a method for getting out of the way of users. It removes barriers to getting stuff done. Makes actions intuitive.
This is all very noble and certainly fits with the user-centred cluetrain-focused social media world we now live in. But, as someone from the marketing side of the fence, I want to change how people act.
So for me, it's less about user experience and more about user behaviour.
Of course the two aren't – and shouldn't be – mutually exclusive. But as soon as we focus on changing behaviour, it becomes less about getting out of the way of users and more about encouraging a series of actions. Less about the nuts and bolts of a clear and consistent navigation, eye-lead and all that good stuff. More about a compelling user journey, an engaging story and effective persuasion.
To be clear, I am not advocating a return to old-school interruption-based communication. No one is served by poor UX. I am, however, saying that we shouldn't be shy of trying to shape people's behaviour. And UX can have a massive role to play.