What do you do?

Once again, Jakob Nielsen has given us a gift. That of explanation. Building on the decades of work he, Don Norman and others have engaged in, he gives us insight into what the “it” is when it comes to User Experience Design. If you read no further, the summary of User Experience Careers is great and the complete, free report is even better.

It’s the question some people love and others cannot stand. If you are a CEO, a Marketing or IT Director, the founder of an organization, a stay-at-home parent, a teacher or a software developer, it’s pretty easy for folks you meet to understand what you do when they inevitably ask: “So, what do you do?”.

tenacity-job-security

Sean McCabe’s beautiful lettering.

As a user experience (UX) professional, if I answer it straight up, “I’m a user experience professional” (I have avoided the term designer for a while now) most of the time, I get a blank-ish stare or a nod of semi-understanding.

It’s no one’s fault. Explaining it quickly is part of my job. I’ve borrowed and distilled from others along the way which is one of the skills a lot of us working in the area of UX have to have. Not stealing, constantly learning.

Good experience is a lot like electricity. You notice it most when it’s not there. And even when it’s not there, you’re not likely to be wondering which part of the intricate system failed. You just want it to work for you.

A great UX pro is often in the background. When someone says they’re a user experience designer, think of flipping on the lights in your kitchen.