How Lord of The Rings Helps Me Understand Why We Need To Embrace & Destroy UX Design

Originally posted by Xavier Bertels on xavierbertels.com

UX. It stands for User eXperience. It is the cyber- of this decade; quickly becoming a caricature of itself. And yet it is such a useful thing. Lord of The Rings helps me to understand my double relationship with this overused term.

I say overused because UX is a two-letter word that people in the tech industry put in front of pretty much any title. The most popular of which is “UX Designer”. Put it in a list like so:

  • UX Designer;
  • UX Developer;
  • UX Manager;

and even the redundancy becomes redundant. Back to:

  • Designer;
  • Developer;
  • Manager.

Any User Experience is the result of a team effort. A good User Experience is not necessarily the brainchild of one UX Designer. So how come we sell UX Design as if it is the result of thinking and/or execution by a specialised individual or group of individuals? How come we are creating schools that teach it? It is something I have been struggling to understand. Who is the real hero? It cannot be the UX Designer, but then it is.

With the danger of abusing the epic novel to illustrate a point, Lord of The Rings has helped me to understand the complexity. An analogy is obviously never 100% right, but bear with me. Consider this quote:

I have come, but I cannot do what I have come to do.

Consider the concept User Experience of a product. Someone thinks UX Design (The One Ring) is a good idea. It is introduced to help create better products by having a central point of reference (Rule Them All). However, so long as there is that one role (The One Ring), that goal is not reached. Because the true goal of UX Design is for everyone in the organisation to work together towards one goal (peace in Middle Earth) not to have just one UX Designer.

You need the UX Designer (Frodo) in order to remove UX Design from the organisation again. You need to have the role, the person, the journey. But, the role of UX Designer is an attractive role to be in and to perpetuate (Frodo’s attraction to The One Ring). When the UX Designer arrives at the point where it becomes necessary to remove the role from the organisation (standing at the fire, having surmounted long and arduous travel), it will probably all become very confusing.

I have come, but I cannot do what I have come to do. Those words are impossible to improve. I guess what I am trying to say is that having UX Design as a concept at this point is probably useful. But we should also be prudent about thoughtlessly introducing The One Ring in our organisations. With it comes great power, and the responsibility to destroy it at some point.

If this does not make sense at all to you, that is okay. I write this mostly to better understand the dual relationship I have with UX Design. Thoughts and remarks are, of course, welcome.

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