I am going to wander into speculation, as I often do, and try to complete a partially hatched idea as I write this post. As I meet with recruiters, hiring managers and especially casual acquaintances, I am often asked, “What does a UX Designer do?” I have started to tell them that I predict the future.
In 2013 one of my favorite musicians released an album called The Weatherman. Gregory Alan Isakov described a present day weatherman as, “a guy on television or on the radio telling us the future, and nobody cares.” I never thought of weathermen as predicting the future, but that is basically what they do. Nevermind the stigma that they are often wrong, they do a remarkable job at telling us what to expect. UX Designers have the same responsibility.
Meteorology is a classic field of scientific study. I would argue that a good UX Designer employs a healthy level of scientific study as well. Weathermen use data, a lot of data, to determine climate patterns and ultimately predict what will happen in the near future. They conduct research and perform experiments in order to better understand the current state of weather. In a similar fashion, expert UX Designers conduct experiments and analyze data to understand the climate of target markets. Their conclusions, in turn, directly influence business decisions.
The important point is that these predictions are not hunches or stabs in the dark. They are sound conclusions based on research. How valuable would it be if your business could predict the future? A good UX Designer should be able to tell you what will work or how to adapt to the increasingly fickle climate of consumerism. And that will make you look like the genius in a rainstorm who brought an umbrella to work on a cloudless day.