The purpose of user experience design is to create personal value

“The purpose of user experience design is to create personal value. We’re not here to reduce risk. We’re not here to massage conversion rates. We’re here to make things that improve people’s lives. In doing so, our companies profit in both senses of the word. It’s insufficient to judge our industry by the ROI we generate, or our contribution toward GDP. We should judge our industry by the happiness we create.” – Cennydd Bowles

Read more in the transcript of Cennydd’s IA Summit 2011 closing plenary speech “The fall and rise of user experience.

Catriona Shedd

I am a User Experience Designer with a passion for making people’s lives better through design. I have helped over a dozen organizations obtain a competitive advantage by delivering great user experiences across desktop, mobile, tablet and other channels.

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  • keithernet

    I agree, but… In the land of rock candy castles, happiness is a great metric. Unfortunately in the real world, you can’t pay salaries with happiness.

  • LMarine

    Sometimes, eliminating unhappiness is just as good.

    Also, @Kiethernet, customers value products that make them happy more than those that don’t. Can you translate that into profits? Most definitely!

  • keithernet

    Bing, bing, bing! @LMarie FTW. 🙂

  • @keithernet Maybe you can’t measure it directly, but you can measure social interaction and buzz. If you provide a service that makes people happy, they will talk about it. Be it as word of mouth, be it on social networks. This is the sort of advertisement money can’t buy.

  • keithernet

    @Wouter De Ryck – I am reaping the snarky comment that I sowed yesterday. 🙂

    Envision a cat that flattens its ears, crouches down, darts its eyes back and forth, then it takes a wack with its paw and shoots off like a rocket. That was me yesterday. Feeling frisky.

    I really do agree with you folks. Really. I promise! 🙂

    In the web world it is a lot easier to factor buzz and social interaction into your overall UX ROI/value. For me, leading UX of a global software company, the environment is different. Yes, happiness does come into play, but it is often overshadowed by the financials. Even though happiness drives the financials – it’s the numbers that get tracked by the accountants.

    You folks are very good sports!

  • Great post! Very appreciated, thank you so much.

  • I’ve been battling with this topic myself. I despise marketing and advertising. I get the need, but in my opinion stuff like website ads, television commercials, even email ads all distract from the content. Or waste my time. Or both. Yet I’ve worked with user experience agencies that focus their user experience efforts on user research, using tracking tools like Google Analytics, KISSinsights, etc. I’ve felt conflicted using these tools because I don’t like that “invasion of privacy” personally, so why would I suggest those methods to users?

    Truth is, those tools help us as user experience designers measure what works and what doesn’t work in our interfaces. In a way, measuring conversion rates plays a role in the user experience problem. If conversion rates are low, there’s a problem we have to solve.