Wind of change: are we finally starting to agree on how UX should be done?

Mon 21 July 2014
By Martin Polley

I originally sent this out as a newsletter, but I think it deserves to be a blog post too.

A few weeks back, I sent out a newsletter about some of the great stuff Peter Merholz has been writing recently on the best ways to "do UX" in a organization. (Should UX be a separate function? Or should designers be embedded in product teams?)

In the last couple of days, I've seen a few more posts that address the same issues.

Dan Brown (of EightShapes) wrote a piece on Medium about the importance of design systems, and wondered why many organizations don't seem to have such systems in place. He asserts that the biggest barrier is designers' position in the organization. And then goes on on to say that the typical "service bureau" model, while effective, is ultimately limiting. That the whole organization needs to "get" design:

To have a design system is to have a pervasive language of design, one that everyone in the organization speaks natively.

This put me in mind of the fantastic stuff Leisa Reichelt has been writing recently about strategy. A lot of her writing comes from her experience working at the UK's Government Digital Service, the team tasked with the "digital transformation of government". No small task, but one that they seem to be doing incredibly well.

GDS has its own blog, where Ben Terrett recently wrote a post that echoed Leisa and Dan's points. Here are a couple of choice quotes:

We don’t have a UX Team.

... user experience is the responsibility of everyone in the team.

These things all seem to be pointing to one thing, despite the diversity of types of organizations they relate to: that UX is strategic, and it needs to be the concern of everyone in the organization.

Something else caught my eye in that GDS post:

We don’t make wireframes or photoshop mockups ... We’re making a Thing, not pictures of a Thing.

And, directly related to this:

All of the designers can code or are learning to code. ... it’s important to belong to a group with shared skills and experiences. This helps people develop their skills, support each other and build a strong culture with shared standards.

Which aligns with what I've been banging on about for ages: that UX designers should learn how to code, and by the way, here's my course that will teach you to do exactly that :)