User Experience is not a Platform


UX Australia 2010

There seems to be this idea of late promoting that all you need to design a user experience is a single developmental / design platform.  As if this platform is all that is required, the UX nirvana, the ulitmate UX tool.

This is a little like saying that your experience with a cup of coffee is directly reliant on the brand coffee making equipment and tools that where used to brew the cup.   With no consideration to given to the farmer, buyer, roaster, and the barista and the like.

UX is not about the spanners and hammers, its about the way you use and don’t use them.The discipline of user experience design isn’t really  dependant on anyone platform or tool set.

As we know user experience design is about the application of techniques, methods and abstract tools.

It’s not about Adobe, Microsoft, Omnigroup or any other software vendor.

UX Design the Good Bits

In fact if you are  good UX designer you really won’t care what the tool or design platform is that you’re using.

All you will care about is the outcome, the ability to see the patterns allowing you to solve the design issues at hand.

I often find myself shifting between varous tools from pen, paper, and a bunch of post-its (I know I love the old school) to Omnigraffle, Word, Balsamic, Sketchflow or the like.  Not really caring for the tool or the “process” but just the outcome.

These are just tools.Yes you have favourites, but in reality they don’t matter, all they are doing it making the presentation easier or saving time.  They are not the UX process.  They’re not the platform.   They aren’t the centralised  methodology.

In fact the UX platform is what we are carrying around all the time.   No it’s not an iPad.   The platform is what’s between your ears.

So if you think the UX  platform is a vendors developmental tools  – you really are doing user experience wrong.  Or maybe you have been drinking a little too much of the vendors UX koolaid.

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  1. Good post Gary – I agree that it’s about what we carry between our ears!
    On the other hand, the choices we make with tools does have a consequence in my working environment. We work in a collaborative environment with other designers (both internal and client). The choice of tools depends on who’s working with who, particularly in the cases where we share designs.

    But good point overall about knowing which tool/process to use at the right time, rather than one magic bullet tool.

  2. Thanks Ruth, yes its all about being flexible in your workflow, you cab defined tools, but the key is don’t let the tools drive the process.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. The best UX Design is the one you don’t notice! Which then becomes a problem because users take it for granted.

    Interesting have a read of

  4. Hi Luke

    Yes the best UX is the one you don’t see.

    As for UX education, I do agree with Rutledge, I was going to comment however I have never been involved on either side of the fence with UX education. However I have talked with a lot of academics in the area over the years. There are only a handful I would recommend, the rest just don’t have any long term UX / IxD experience, which in my mind is the issue.

  5. User experience is about the overall rather than any one thing. Great post!

  6. Interesting, Gary; we seem to either read different blogs or run in different circles of practitioners. I’ve found that almost everyone in my network, either former employers, fellow UX designers, potential clients, and loose connections of friends of friends, don’t take this view, nor do the laundry list of blogs that are worth more than a cursory glance.

    I would say the best audience for your thoughts would be the recruiters who troll resumes, coldcalling practitioners asking “Do you know this tool? Great, what about this tool?”. It seems that’s where the biggest gap is in understanding the tools don’t make the designer.

    (P.S.) Just to be clear, I wasn’t implying I was shocked we don’t hang out with the exact same people–I know you’re on the other side of the planet from me–I’m simply saying I don’t always see this view in the larger UX community I’ve been fortunate to engage with regularly.

  7. Hi Chris, I’m not really sure if you are agreeing with me or not.

    I will say that most of the peers in my network don’t take the old school platform or tool centric approach. Which is good.

    However there is a very vocal element that are seen as evangelists in the UX area (in a way) that consider a very UX Platform based approach. This post is in a way a counter to the culture they are spreading. Which thankfully is not in my immediate UX community.

Comments are now closed, move along, nothing to see here.