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User Experience Isn’t New And It Wasn’t Always #1

User Experience Isn’t New…Mostly

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It’s Always Been a Thing, Just Not Everybody’s Top Thing

User Experience design is always part of any interactive design project. Today, that’s about as obvious a statement as can be made. Nearly everything in the world today, not just the mobile apps and websites, but doorbells, toys, our cars, literally everything that can be interacted with in any conceivable way is affected by a user experience consideration.

It’s a given now but for many experienced designers, particularly those whose careers predate smart phones, providing users with a clean, intuitive, pleasant experience wasn’t always the highest end goal of a design project.


People worldwide have become accustomed to  convenience and ease-of-use, true. So from a purely marketing standpoint, user experience is a must if you simply want to keep up with the Joneses. But now we’re all woke to the necessity of designing for maximum accessibility so all users can be included as equally as possible.

But that wasn’t always the case.Early on, I differed from many of my peers who adopted flashy functionality, often at the users’ expense. Maybe it was my advertising background but I always pushed for a content-first or a user-first approach, believing that it was the marketing message and its most direct communication that was king.

After all, what good was all the bang and flash (pun unintended) if the client’s marketing was missed. Sure, they’d get a pat on the back from their peers and sometimes they’d even get a lot of clicks, if only out of early Internet curiosity. But at what cost? Monetarily, they’d spend two or three times as much as clients who opted for a more traditional approach, and what they’d have to show for it — besides that priceless pat on their backs — was many fewer conversions per visit.

Not UX/UI design at it’s best.


User Experience as a Wallflower

In those early days of website design, not everyone believed the growing mantra, “Content Is King.” Content was boring relative to eye-catching animations. All that was being touted as bleeding-edge at the time has little to do with anyone interested in  the marketing side of things.

My frustration at the time was that the majority of the client bases where I worked was small businesses with small budgets. Yet, time and time again, I witnessed the hard sell to these people the benefits that a bells-and-whistles site. They were being told that they needed sites that would shout, Hey! to users who could be nowhere else but on the sites in question.

That approach always struck me like someone entering a business and being blasted in the face with one of those 1920s brass car horns. Yet, despite my evangelizing and despite my sites being dominated by orderly paragraphical type, they preferred to stick with the virtual pretty girls of the day. Namely, Flash, button-only splash pages, and non-selectable type.

In those designers’ defense, it was perhaps too early to be certain where the Internet was going in the short term. Before Napster, before Amazon, and definitely before smart phones, the Internet could have evolved in any number of ways.Napster opened many designers’ and users’ awareness and design directly by pushing legal considerations and general functionality. Amazon the same, but in a more commercial direction and at a vastly larger scale. And, of course, smart phones changed everything on and off the tech field, even the users themselves.

Still, in my experience, the handwriting was on the wall. There had been, were, and would continue to be vanity client, those who wanted the brightest bleeding-edge website and who were less interested in generating calls, emails, sales, etc. But commercially-interested clients with exactly those interests easily outnumbered them 10:1.

I guess I’ve always gravitated toward commercial interests. Hell, my dba — this very site — is Company Man Design. So it’s probably no surprise that I’ve always been a user experience oriented guy. Maybe it’s been boring to some, but communicating market messaging in the most direct fashion via a strong, tasteful, and appropriate designed has truly been in my blood from the beginning.


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