The World Usability Day 2016 – in the light of sustainable user experience design
Today marks the annual World Usability Day.
This year’s theme is sustainable (green) user experience design.
There’s never been a more demanding time for designers. Our planet doesn’t do well, and the overwhelming poverty, conflict and crisis proves the life of the entire population difficult. We might look at it as it if was a curse; that we’re on a doomed path.
One might say that, however I believe it’s also a time where great optimism is needed. It’s a great opportunity to turn things around.
Objectives of sustainable design are going well with the development goals as established by the United Nations (SDGs).
What is interesting about these goals is that they’re not only set on values related to the natural environment. I believe that as designers we have the responsibility of bringing sustainable and efficient processes into our practice – and promoting them amongst our customers.
Look at it this way; wouldn’t many organisations that you know benefit from being run more efficiently, delivering solutions that provide even more value and quality? Most likely.
Whilst we might succeed in bringing better design ‘to the masses’ in the long run by simply producing good quality websites, it’s going to be a tough ride.
Involving the whole organisation
I would like to argue that the key to real change lies in adapting sustainable design thinking at the organisational level. No surprise – this is a part of digital transformation.
Whilst significant effort is often required in that journey to better services, it will inevitably bring fruit of increased satisfaction for both customers and businesses.
Herein lies the problem, however. ‘Significant effort’. This is often a barrier to successful sustainable design.
This isn’t the result of negligence or reluctance; it’s simply hard to make big changes on a huge scale at once.
Start small to aim high
My observation shows that tiny steps are required in order to ‘germinate’ the culture of good design in large organisations.
I believe that involving clients in user experience processes (both as observers and executioners) works the best.
What we sometimes do at Storm, for instance, is to train our customers so they could undertake certain design challenges on their own. Be it user needs discovery or content audit, when done by a client, it’s not only generating more insight (after all, who knows their own website better?) but also builds stronger internal relationships and grows understanding for good design methodologies.
As facilitators of user experience design processes we can help our customers in becoming better, more effective and focused on continuous improvement.
This will transpire into improved, sustainable and efficient processes which, in return, could improve the quality of our lives. This is how I would like to decode this year’s message as sent by the World Usability Day.
It used to be enough to sit with participants in usability labs and to push pixels around, deciding where buttons on a page should go. We now have to become enablers, educators and entrepreneurs and to release our influence over those, who deal with the real issues faced by our generation.
If we manage to plant seeds of mindful design in companies that we work with, there is a chance for much better, brighter future for everyone.
Do something good, start from the ground and keep building up.