Shouting about Success and Failure


Newtown Photo Shoot - Sept 2007 graph streetart

When was the last time you read about how to apply a certain UX technique in detail. Or read about the failure of a method in particular situation, and the subsequent analysis as to why.

Yes within the web industry we have the zealots, true believers or the like. These are the people who back and promote causes towards best practice, inclusive design, standards adoption to responsive design.

Sure they will talk about their successes and sometimes document them .

Still it’s rare they talk about their failures.

Now in the UX segment things are no different, if the success is documented, it’s presented to us as an high level details. Failure, so don’t talk about.

So, we sit back and just plod on with just an idea of the right direction that worked for the experts, but still no real details.

You may think there isn’t a lot that we can really share.   Not so –  there are lots of things we can all share starting with our  wins and finally our failures.

Sharing the Wins

Yes sure we all go out and promote our wins, celebrating what we did right, hinting at our winning formulas.  Publishing all these details, or lack of, on our business web sites.

Great, this is stella for your marketing, hats off to you if you are doing this.

Seeing other succeed and sharing their  secrets of success, can make you feel like good things are possible and wash away the negativity we see from day to day.  As long as it’s presented with out rubbing peoples noses in it.

The important thing is the level of detail, are you telling us all not just about the win, but the how and why.

It could be a new web site, a technique are just found.  You don’t have to start with work stuff,  a great pub, coffee shop or just a inspirational tale sets the tone.

Promoting Failure

You know from a design view point, success is good.  But failure is better.

The ultimate is showing others how a process failed, and also why it failed.

One day someone will get up at a conference and say, “My project failed, this is the journey and the lessons learnt”, it will be honest and from the heart.  As an Industry we need more of this.

The point we learn will be invaluable. They’ll save us from making the same mistakes. Save us pain, allow us to not waste time.  This sharing may even promote discussions on the technique in question.

It’s a simple thing really  – as we learn from each others failures we are able to move the UX industry forward at a greater rate.

Does the UX community share and build on each others work?

Backend devs do this,  Front end coders do this,  Visual designers even do this.  Do we – no.

We need to be like  this laptop sized  table refrigerator manufacture and shout about our failures.

Maybe we need a community site, somewhere to show our success and failure, anonymously if you like.

So you don’t have failures – show me a designer that has no failures and I’ll show you a liar.

Showing the Process

You know we shouldn’t just leave it there, we should show our processes, our thinking too.

As a UX community we need to be brave and show our documentation, (clients willing).

What do we have to really loose.

Sometimes we need to explain the contextual boundaries set we can framework, like the budget level, the time frame and level of resources. After it’s framed we can stand back show it, faults and all.

Success or failure  – showing the process is going to help us all learn.  It’s also going to help us be inspired and steal from each others documentation methods and techniques. After all UX design is all about stealing.

Which is good! After all design is always about iteration and referencing previous works for inspiration, like any creative industry.

Sadly in the UX field there often isn’t the chance to do this inspirational iteration.  Why?

Business Reality

From a business view you make think this stupid. After all you don’t want the other guy to have any advantage at all.

You want him to fail, maybe to fall down, better yet for him to go out of business and maybe leave the industry or come work for you.   You want him removed as competition.

So why would you tell anyone your secrets, your processes in details, your failures, your weaknesses.

After all isn’t business just war!

Allowing Community Learning

It’s also very ego-centric and self-serving.   Are you really that type of person?

Alternatively you can consider the bigger picture beyond the microcosm of business.   Look at the UX community, support them.

For most of us we have learnt at least some of our skills from people who have passed on their secrets for a reduced cost or for free.

Now what  would have happened if they hadn’t done this.   Imagine the cost and slow pace of UX best  practice if no one contribed to the community in the first place.

Ask yourself why haven’t you shared the details of your successes and failures.   Why are you hiding all that knowledge? Isn’t it time to give it back?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Looks like there is no conversation here yet, why not start one.