"Changing the world, one screen at a time." No, it's not the motto of the latest inessential social web thingy -- it's a rallying cry for user experience (UX) designers, the unsung heros of the 21st century creative class. They may have their own imposing-looking magazines, but what do they do, really? Watch the video below:
OK, so maybe that video is a little hand-wavey. But user experience (and its close cousin often mistaken as a twin, user interface) design may be the prime way that companies and products compete in the coming decade. In a world where near-magical technology "under the hood" is taken as a given in almost any artifact, the differentiating factor for consumers, clients and companies will be: how easy/effective/appealing is this thing to actually use? That's what UX designers focus on optimizing: the experience. UX is the difference between using a product and loving it -- a make-or-break proposition for any brand trying to stay relevant in the next five years and beyond.
The video gets a little too cute in parts, but its overall message is spot-on: UX is about creating "software with soul." Of course, for such a fundamentally emotional discipline, the discourse -- stimulating and important though it is -- can often seem more than a little dry. (Sorry, UX Magazine, but it's true.) User experience design needs to create a little more UX love for itself -- so more decisionmakers (or, erm, "stakeholders" as they're often and ickily called in meetings where UX comes up) can have an easier time engaging with just how essential it is to their bottom line.
So cutesy videos like these are more serious than they seem. After all, do you want to be the next Apple, or the next Microsoft? UX, in many ways, makes all the difference.