In discussions of whether UX can be learned, a controversial issue is whether we should attend design schools or not. While some argue that it can be taught and learned within a few months, others contend that practising design is the only way. This is not to say that enthusiasts can’t start their design journey, its just that it reminds me of my own design journey and beyond.
New designers celebrate the journey of quick prototyping and making beautiful interfaces on screen. I admit I have also enjoyed this path for a long time. But my processes were disrupted once I started interacting with real people, other than user personas. They had bigger concerns. They were okay with the interface looking pretty but in the end, but they wanted their problems to be solved. To summarize, they wanted these tools as just a means to make their life easy and beautiful.
I had to re-skill and learn new ways of learning this art. When it comes to how to actually implement these skills in design, our current thought leaders in design don’t a lot to say. Nevertheless, I started following a few designers on twitter who had a background in psychology as I wanted to understand how designers should think, what they are breathing, eating and studying.
The pattern started to emerge and I observed the difference. For most of the designers, it has become common today to conveniently exclude minor or less important cases in design. Many designers surrender themselves to the stakeholder requirements. While I understand the impulse to satisfy the company’s needs, my own view is we designers should be the advocates of users.
But who really cares? Who besides me and a handful of designers and user researchers has a stake in these claims? At the very least, the designers who formerly believed in the concept of empathy or designers who have exposure to psychology should care. For instance, while designing the productivity, to-do or habit or meditation application we can really empathize with the user. He or she has installed a particular application because is not able to maximize his or her potential.
Although some readers may object that diving deep for the users will not pay the businesses, I would answer that we can inculcate this attribute in gradual steps throughout the career. Ultimately, then, my goal is to demonstrate how we can humanize the design with the help of behavioural psychology since I believe this field is itself larger than a Hook or COM-B model.
Those unfamiliar with this school of thought may be interested to know that it basically boils down to understanding you as a human first. Turning inwards would lead us to the world of psychology. We would understand user more if we understand we as designers are humans as well. If, for instance, I delay my decisions or procrastinate, I would be a better person while designing productivity app.
Impossible, some will say. They will say it is very difficult to imbibe psychology in design or it may only happen in theories. Then, I would defend that there are some active organizations and companies who are already working in this direction. They work with nudge units and influence the decisions of the user.
This interpretation challenges the work of those designers who have long assumed that design is all about making rectangles and buttons on the screen. When a designer has the knowledge of how the mind works, he or she has the power of designing empathetic user experiences. Ultimately, we understand that the well-designed products do have the power to change the narrative which focuses on growth and change.
In conclusion, I emphasize that we will be ready to enter the world of Behavioural Science when we will truly understand how psychology and design field relate to each other, A well-established world of its own which has taken wisdom from various fields such as economics, psychology, neuroscience, and marketing.
Contributed by Radhika Dutt
A Behaviour Scientist, Design Thinker and Former Developer.
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