I was sitting down this morning having a nice cup of coffee, some eggs with spinach, and a piece of toast.
It’s interesting when we are not rushing from here to there, going going going, that we have time to think – I mean really think. Deeply even.
So I was thinking about how I got into UX, why I like it, what drives me to want to create great user experiences whether it’s software, an app, a website, a product, or just a whole new way of doing something we do every single day.
The first thing I thought of was I like to fix things, and how I see lots of things that can be made into a better experience not only for myself, but my family, friends, and people in general. And it’s not a case of just making something a little easier to use, but really shaking things up — creating a whole new way to do something.
We’re so used to doing things that were invented so long ago, there’s never really any real change. People just get used to the status quo and thus progress gets stuck.
I want to change that – and at my last job I did, but you’ll have to wait a while to see those things come to light.
And then I thought about why do I really like doing UX? More so, what really drives me to want to do great work? And it all comes down to one thing — I love making people happy. I love to make people smile and forget about their worries, problems, drama.
It goes back to when I was 5, and I had my Muppets — Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, Grover- and my older brother and I would do shows from behind the couch for our parents, friends, and other family. We’d start out with some comedy (I did a mean Cookie Monster impression), and then we’d have them lip-sync to the Beatles. I loved making people laugh.
It wasn’t about me or the attention – it was about serving others and making them happy.
When I was 7 I started doing magic shows for the family and friends, and eventually for the kids in the neighborhood. I’d always mess up, but would make light of it and it made people laugh, smile, and forget about life.
When I was 8, I started tinkering with things, and figured out how to make my puppets animated, and then saw a special on “The Wonderful World of Disney” that featured Imagineers – THAT’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. I kept doing magic shows, puppet shows, and loved to tell stories that made people laugh and smile.
My latest personal project was (well still is because I’ll never be done with it) is a full-scale R2D2 astromech droid. Yes, I’m a bit of a Star Wars geek (or nerd…I don’t know anymore). My son and I built him to take to places like Children’s Hospital. We had him even at church one day for a series called “At the Movies”.
Between services we had him in the lobby for pictures. People lined up (lots of people) to have a chance to get their picture with him. I sat quietly off to the side, watching people and their excitement. A few adults came up to me and commented how they had been wanting to have their photo with him and meet R2 since they were kids.
You could see sheer joy in their eyes. Amazing how a rolling piece of wood, plastic, metal, motors, lights, sounds, and lots of hot glue can make people that happy.
So here I am now, doing UX because it’s a way to make people happy. Life is pretty hard as it is — we don’t need websites, or apps, or products that make things more so. Whether it’s an enterprise app that’s supposed to be used by someone every day at their job, or a game, or social media, or whatever, I want to make things a joy to use.
Make people smile.
And that’s what I love to do.