Last week, I listened to Design Details podcast episode 123: Live @ Github. In it, panelist Carolyn Zhang mentioned the parallels of the UX field to to Animation field when it was born. Animation was a new industry at the time and Disney drew from many fields that came before (she was reading The Illusion of Life). I thought this was a cool point to think about.
UX is emerging from a multitude of fields. First, to meet and exceed expectations from an existing audience. Secondly, to meet business needs that we are still realizing and some of which we are learning from past mistakes for. This is an interesting point to recognize. Many have realized that we are in the middle of the digital revolution, but the fact that UX focus is pulling many forms into one displays the breadth of scope that this vast field covers. It also highlights the uncertainty that must be embraced and the multiple ways to practice. In other words, at this point we are using some best practices, but still figuring it all out together.
"The software crisis was originally defined in terms of productivity, but evolved to emphasize quality."
In many ways, there are consumer expectations that are brought in from many other fields, and business needs that make UX in the software industry play a vital role in the creation of an industry that creates real commerce. The question around profit generation in the startup sector is a prime example of the variable playing field we are in right now. Our opportunities not only lie in the creation of amazing experiences that can literally change the world, but in the way we shape the industry to get there. We are all helping to forge best practices by our trials and failures. This can be a pain point in many ways, but it’s also liberating. We are in an open frontier for opportunity.
In the podcast, the panelist mentioned how when Disney jumped into animation it was so new that there wasn’t a whole lot to pull directly from. They made it up as they went. There was a list of other disciplines in that book that Disney studios pulled from to form this new field of entertainment and art.
It's a lot like that in product design which is why we are still working on defining this craft as it exists today.
UX Borrows from:
- Graphic Design
- Computer Science
- Industrial Design (designing for humans, and in systems/parts applied to a whole)
Disney has also been considered the first UX designer - introducing the role of joy. Not only was his understanding of entertainment at a level to produce great works, but to evoke emotion as a holistic experience throughout his brand of storytelling. It was ahead of its time, and now we are using the tools of our day to bring together many things we’ve learned to create a new future.