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Today I set down watching the livecast of the second day keynote just to see what it was going on, because I pretty much knew everything about IE8 and I didn’t know who Deborah Adler was.

OK, IE8 RTM was released… and the “exceptional” standard compliancy was shown on stage, together with the webslices and accellerators. But, not big news. Now I’ve to update my IE6 warning message.

But I was really pleased not to have closed the stream when Deborah Adler coming on stage.

Bill Buxton introduced her saying:

“She doesn’t come from our culture. To her, a developer is someone who turns your photos into prints!”

She told her story, of how experiencing a user’s real problem and feeling his pain helped her revolutionizing the medical prescription packaging industry and, most of all, creating a better and safer world through a better user experience.

The message that she gave us with her talk was that the real key to success, both for you and your users, is that you, as user experience designer, put yourself in your user’s shoes, think about their needs, feel their pain and come out with something that is made for them.

She ended her speech with that inspiring words:

“Let me give you the life-long lessons I learned from this project. What separates you from your competitors isn’t design or development, it’s truly thinking about the person who will use your design or development and figuring out how it can solve their needs. Once you start thinking about your customers’ needs, it becomes a habit. When you start from this perspective, you’re no longer just a designer, you’re a user experience designer, and I salute you for this!”

That pretty much also matches with what Bill Buxton mantra is:

“Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design are the ‘things’ that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender, and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.”

That takes me to a sad realization: how many user experience designers are staffed in software projects? Talking from my experience, most of the time their number is ZERO. I hope that now that Microsoft is starting to evangelize this, big companies will start thinking that UX is not only for consumer oriented project (like MTV or ESPN or similar stuff) but is a competence that must be inside every project that has an human as end user.

And, with all the new Rich Applications framework around, the new input paradigm (multi-touch, gestures and similar), creating a good user experience becomes more complex, because you have so many things you can do and making good use of the 3D fx and all the fancy stuff is difficult.

That’s why it’s an exciting time to be a User Experience Designer, because UX can change the user’s life.

If you missed Deborah’s keynote, go and watch the interview on MixOnline site, and check back the homepage for the keynote recording.

And, Daniela, is a UX as well: if you are Italian she will be speaking about that UX stuff at two upcoming conferences: all4Web Day and, possibly, the IV Italian ALT.NET Conference. You might also want to check her technical blog where she talks about UX, design, usability and so on.

Ah, by the way, video sessions are online:, I’ll update the links to the videos asap.

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posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 7:07 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: There is return in user experience design

Left by Nic Wise at 3/19/2009 8:24 PM

"That takes me to a sad realization: how many user experience designers are staffed in software projects? Talking from my experience, most of the time their number is ZERO. "

And I've worked for the same number of companies who take UX seriously. Actually, the BBC is the exception, but I'm not sure it's a good thing.

UX is nice, but most businesses are not yet willing to pay for it. They dont see the value. Companies like MSFT will, but most others? Not so sure.

# re: There is return in user experience design

Left by Simone at 3/19/2009 9:44 PM

@Nic: My hope is that now that MS is leading this "new" idea, other companies will follow.
Good or bad, most .NET dev shops follow what MS dictates.

# re: There is return in user experience design

Left by Nic Wise at 3/19/2009 11:27 PM

yes and no. I've seen _some_ MS shops follow, but I've also seen a lot of customers getting ripped off my MS shops who "just follow microsoft". Installing BizTalk when DTS/SSIS would have done the job better, and for $20K less.

But I agree - it would be nice to have UX design in the process a lot more. I just dont see it happening a lot more than it is, and I think thats a reason why WPF hasn't taken off quite as much as it should.

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