User experience means a variety of things to professionals across design, marketing and technology. So it was refreshing to have an opportunity for reflection on our bigger purpose at the recent UX Hong Kong conference.
The content was indicative of the maturing practice and discourse in Asia.
Exchanges around methodologies, techniques and technologies of UX design remain pertinent to the community’s continuing education, yet there was an attempt to consider the bigger picture: to address the bigger cause, role and potential impact that everyone needs to recognise in the pursuit of creating solutions that generate sustainable value for our society.
This is particularly relevant at a time when many leading brands are shifting from traditional marketing to more enduring experiences by designing across customer touchpoints and through product innovations.
The essence of brand engagement is shifting from sole "communication" to "co-creation" as companies adopt a "maker culture" that links the physical with digital channels. This creates a truly connected experience that allows customers and businesses to "live" the brand promise.
And, for those of us who appreciate and have internalised the "maker culture" element of UX, there is always room for a reality check: to realise that great products, solutions and experiences need to be successfully adopted by real people to achieve real impact.
Even with the purest of altruistic motives, success is hard to achieve if ingenuity has not accounted for organisational capabilities as enabled by viable business models.
Each of use needs to recognise the transformative power and potential behind our passions
So let’s not forget to respect the business of design or, as one of the speakers Bill DeRouchey put it: "Business is the mechanism for making solutions thrive."
Our love for the world does not guarantee that great designs and solutions will generate the intended impact.
We can gain much power from recognising business capabilities and economics. After all, even charities have to make money to translate their purpose into real and enduring impact on the human lives they want to empower.
Perhaps the greatest takeaway from UX Hong Kong is that each of us in the design, marketing and technology ecosystem needs to recognise the transformative power and potential behind our passions.
The science and art of creating solutions that yield positive and hopefully sustainable value for businesses and the humans involved demand that people in our profession have an open mind and tenacity to learn.
They also need to think beyond the most tangible and immediate realm of their craft.
It’s a responsibility that starts with deeper understanding of the purposes and values of the self, our colleagues, our clients and our customers, and the broader organisational and business systems we coexist with. Now that’s a healthy indication of a maturing discourse.
Maria Sit is the regional managing director, Asia-Pacific at HeathWallace
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