Sunday, October 17, 2004

In a business, which organization should own the user experience?

This past Tuesday evening, I interviewed Don Norman (author of the recently published, "Emotional Design: Why we love -- or hate -- everyday things") on stage as part of a special BayCHI/BayDUX event entitled, "User Experience: Why Do So Many Organizations Believe They Own It?" The focus of our conversation ranged from what "user experience" really means (Don coined the term years ago while a VP at Apple Computer), what he now thinks of that term and of how it is used these days, the range and role of professional societies which address some aspect of user experience, and how important it is for those professional societies to collaborate much more.

In answer to the question of, "In a business, which organization SHOULD own the user experience?," Don answered (in short), "All of them."

I've worked in companies where multiple organizations believed they alone largely owned or should own user experience. And changing that belief has been a challenge.

Last Tuesday evening, Don said that he still believes the assertion of the title of his first BayCHI presentation delivered to a crowd of 600 back in February of 1993: "Where HCI Design Fails: The Hard Problems are Social and Political, not Technical."

Getting multiple organizations in a business or in the world of professional societies to collaborate in such a way that they all share ownership of user experience in an effective manner is a difficult social and political challenge. But it has been and can be done. And it needs to be done much, much more.