During today’s workshop, “Global Design Research,” with lecturer and author of Global UX Daniel Szuc, I was inspired by how relevant narrative is in how we evolve from a task-based discipline to one that is more experiential and holistic design. In essence, we are storytellers.
Ernest Hemingway was a war journalist and traveled extensively, bringing classic book novels like For Whom The Bell Tolls, as did Steinbeck to the Dust Bowl in birthing for Grapes of Wrath. More recently, Szuc lead his UX design firm through a project for linguistic centers across the world. All storytellers.
And for that Szuc asked a flabbergasted audience, ” When was the last time you had an amazing conversation?” It’s a ruminative question we as digital designers, UX and otherwise, need to consider when we approach projects. Our agency needs to continue to work on bridging brands with customers on a human level, avoiding the “blah”, and setting up dialogue that engages, encourages, and enhances the transaction, commercial or simple evocation.
In approaching UX Design, Szuc asserts that one must be well-travelled, culturally interested, balanced and open, aim to build bridges, and respect perspectives. All of which really does come down to the first: travel. How can we, as UXers, have “experience” in our job title if we do not fulfill our role by getting out into the world—leaving our offices, comforts taken for granted, and people we already know?
This presents a challenge for all agencies and the clients who pay them, experiences that are user relevant and grow business over time require investment of human capital, time, and money to humanize what companies blanket-ly consider customers; humans are story creating creatures (Sikes, Gale 2006). That said, the result of being a UX team that immerses itself as bold and curious researchers results to effective artifacts for design—quotes, films, photographs, sketches, refined user journeys; thus these artifacts converge into unequivocally proven higher returns on investment.