In the last years, the description for digital designers won a ton of different new terms and names. One of the most recent developments is the so-called »Human Experience Designer«, remembering that a UX Designer is developing solutions for humans.
In my point of view, the designation of »Human« as a term of our understanding for the overall target group is a little bit inappropriate, because the user experience could also cover the experience of a dog drinking water out of his or her bowl.
So why should we talk about »Human Experience Design« nevertheless?
Because of the emotions and the empathy this term triggers.
So what am I going to write about this topic?
I am writing about the serious circumstance to be able to allow empathy and emotions to understand the human process completely. Additionally, I will talk about the process of distancing enough when it is time for feedback and critics, its pros and cons.
Our background and the past
Since the beginning of my studies in communication design, one of the most important rules was to allow feedback and not to take it personally. Of course, the feedback had to be qualified and formulated respectfully.
Even back then it was hard not getting sad or demotivated by bad feedback.
With the years most designers learned that critics are one of the most important sources of our work. Every mistake and its disclosure helps us to improve and learn.
I can just share my point of view, but this process made me create a distance to the products, the works and the ideas I created. This distance was helpful not falling back into a negative coil of thoughts. Our position as »deliverer« was also a supporting perspective, keeping away the responsibility (of course you can never keep it away — and to raise great solutions you must be able to communicate on one level with your partner. But the projects, where nobody wants to hear what you think and nobody cares about laws of design, objective design decisions, and all this stuff, become easier to handle).
The era of User Research (Human Research)
Today, in a complex and fully technologized world, we are seeking perfection and simplicity in our solutions. The digital design changed and today’s goals are accessibility, comprehensibility, and quality. To achieve these goals we all had to care more about the user, the person (or even not person) that is using the device, the application or the tool. A discipline which is totally natural for analog tools and devices is getting introduced to the digital patterns.
So we developed user research, personas, interviews — different methods to cover quantitative and qualitative methods. Methods to meet the user and his, her or its desires for the moment of interaction.
We all got very good in this game, pushing different ways to do this analysis and empowering technology recording behaviors without the perception of any user. But I really believe, we lost something on this way: Our distance and artificial innocence which most of us created over the years.
Another source for this change is the changing balance between agency work and corporate work. When designing for a dedicated company was just an option for fortune ones, many of us started a career at an agency or as a self-employed worker. Focusing on User Experience and trying to improve the interaction of corporate strategies the companies started to hire designers with contracts, starting to discover weaknesses, to improve strengths and to open new paths for growth. Design is getting represented at the company’s managing level more and more.
Human Experience Design + Emotions
I believe that the lack of emotional distance to our solutions is something good. And I truly believe that solutions that support humans in their everyday life only can be created with empathy and putting yourself in the perspective of the person that will interact with your idea.
I cannot explain why it took so long to understand that doing something for humans requires humans. A position that prevents me to be totally frightened about robots replacing us at work and doing it much better. Even for these robots it still needs humans.
The return (if it even existed once) to an emotional relationship to design work does not mean that it becomes unprofessional or less scientific. Standards must be given, rules followed, but the last mile to the people can only be reached with confidence. So we, as designers, should start to realize that there is a connection and that we cannot prevent to be emotionally linked to an idea if we want to be successful. The realization of this is the first step to healthy and reasonable handling with human experience design.
We could argue about the interpretation of “What is human” and “What makes design human” or “What is Human Experience Design”, but finally we will stick to the one circumstance, which is not arguably: It is done by humans and it is for humans.
So, if I will be sad about the critics of hard work for other people and feel uncomfortable with it, I will realize that in future — it is a normal process of being involved in a natural process. I will try to work on this from different perspectives and I will allow using my emotions to improve my ideas.
It is not weak to accept it nor to share it with others, especially other designers. We should stop to blame people for that emotional link because you cannot wish human empathy on the one hand and exclude emotional acting of the same person on the other hand.
Yes it hurts if someone is not considering your idea, even more if it is not evaluated well and nobody took the time to hear your thoughts about the process, but sometimes scratching just the surface is part of successful and working UX/HX, because no one should need an explanation to use easy tools or simple interactions.
What can we do? We can talk about it!
Will it become easier? Perhaps yes, perhaps not. But dealing with it helps to find the best way to process your thoughts.
Today, it is much more important than ever to get the soft skills as a designer and to be a representative of the users/humans that are using your solution. Because sometimes the best solution is hidden in our thoughts or quite statements that nobody realizes or learns.
We all are advocates for transforming digital processes.