Coming closer to terms
July 16, 2001
Just got back from the AIGA Experience Design (formerly Advance for Design) summit, where we tried to tackle some of the issues about defining just what it is we do. In retrospect my own essay on the same issue probably would've been better to have split these issues into two essays, since I think it's resulted in some confusion. But rather than pull it down and revise it, I'd rather leave it as a springboard for a discussion—especially since my own views have evolved during last weekend's discussion. However, let me address some of the issues people have raised.

I definitely think visual design and aesthetics (and other sensory design) are a crucial part of UX—and there's huge overlaps with not only branding (in the broad sense), but informing business strategy. What I was trying to get at in the essay was that I don't think someone who working as a UX [whatever] will normally have the visual design skills, nor the time, to replace a visual designer/art director. Nor should they. I definitely think it's important for them to be familiar with visual design (especially if they're a "supervising UX"), but it's not their core area of expertise—just as I think visual designers who want to work in this space, as opposed to print, need to be familiar with IA, interaction design, usability, branding in the broad sense (beyond just logos and image) etc., but likewise these aren't their areas of core expertise.

Same goes for writing and content strategy. And the same for things like animation, A/V and interaction multimedia specialists.

I thought AIGA Experience Design had a nice way of talking about "UX as a field" (as opposed to a job), as a "community of practice" involving multiple disciplines. There's definitely an overlapping meeting areas where these disciplines can and should collaborate. Where the dividing line between tasks occurs will depends on the project and the people involved. But I don't mind drawing boundaries between different jobs as long as we're clear that they're overlapping and shifting boundaries. ::

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