I was talking to a friend of mine today I’ve not talked to in a long time and the subject of what I do came up. Now, after all these years, I’m used to having to explain what I do to people. It’s just a by-product of the profession. There’s lots of joke names for what I do, “Bubble/Line Coordinator” is one of my personal favorites, but my term of choice for what I do comes from one of my early mentors in the field: I make software applications (for the Web) that are powerful but easy to use.
It sounds simple, and sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s a deeply challenging, and therefore rewarding, thing to do.
My grandfather used to say “the first time you hit a golf ball correctly, you’ll be hooked on the game for life” (he was right, by the way). Working in User Experience is just like that. The first time you hear from a user “wow, that was so easy”, you’ll be hooked. It was like that for me.
It wasn’t anything glamorous, just an updated setup process for an application to manage a Microsoft Exchange-based product that involved some pretty deep concepts (from MX Records to MobileMail and BlackBerry options). I worked on it for a long time, and finally came to a flow that I thought worked well. When it was tested on users it received high marks, and one of the comments was “wow, that was easy”.
Sure, the design answered the requirements (and increased activations by over 60%, which looked good on my annual review), but what meant the most to me was that one user’s comment.
That was my golf ball, and I hit it correctly. I’m hooked on UX and Usability for life.