Crowd Sourcing my Research
Now that I have defined 10 Open Questions, which may or may not be answered by the time I complete my thesis, I have made an attempt at crowd sourcing my research by asking the first two questions on Quora. For the first question “What are the open problems in user experience?”, I have received two answers so far the first response stated that:
“An ‘open problem’ is a question without a known solution, and the interesting thing about user experience design is that we don’t have a lot of open problems or questions, it’s that we often have TOO MANY ANSWERS. ”
Unexpected perhaps due to the obviousness of the statement but yes it is true that there are as many answers to a problem that, we the designers, are able to come up with. The author of the comment goes on to cite pixel density, device design and button placement as recurring things which lack a standard solution. Reason being that there is really no standardized method towards approaching design, only best practices, which as the best of us know are meant to be broken because we’re intelligent enough to do so without having a negative impact on the product. Of course most all design firms that I’ve been at or read of have their own internal style guide with which they follow to make these difficult decisions. These internal style guides often match the philosophy and artistic style of the agency that developed it creating a holistic feel among their client projects. A potential thesis project to come from this would be to create a truly Universal style guide for all designers around the world, but I don’t particularly appreciate how arrogant a project like that would make me appear.
The second poster in my answer on Quora states that a problem with user experience is that it’s “constantly associated with design”, of course I don’t really understand the issue with the connection that the author of the comment holds with this matter; he goes on to state:
“But, you can’t design a user’s experience. At least, not in the common sense of the word. I don’t care how skilled you are at skeuomorphic button design, or how you can design a whole web-app without a single box-shadow or gradient. What’s the common phrase, ‘putting lipstick on a pig?’ ”
The author seems to be confusing visual design with the entire discipline of User Experience by constantly citing aesthetic elements which are entirely superficial and only add a small amount of delight to the user since most people would be perfectly happy with gray squares and boxes (pre Windows 98 software design) as long as the app works. Since you absolutely can design a user’s experience through proper research and testing this comment seems more to be taking issue with the overall confusion in regards to the terminology which is a valid concern in regards to this discipline.
In regards to the other question, “Is there an emerging area where there is a lack of UX?” I have received only one response so far but the content of the comment isn’t really notable enough to have a discussion about since it is outside the domain of my interests in regards to developing my MFA Thesis.
As part of my mini-survey that I conducted on previously existing MFA thesis projects I came across an interesting topic, offline social networks. We have all of these great social networks for sharing photos, chatting with friends and reading news but very few in the realm of sites like Meetup, which encourage offline discussion and interaction. The SVA students project was called Recess which was specifically geared towards getting people to create social networks around the types of sports they liked playing using the app as a platform. This idea really got me thinking because there have been a lot of times in my life where I’ve wanted to go see or do things such as go to concerts or movies but didn’t have anyone to go with and often times I ended up doing these things alone, which really sucks. What if there was an offline social network which bridged the gap between the digital and physical realities that we live in and somehow allowed people to spontaneously connect?