UX Professionals: Don’t Fear The Fakers

I’ve had several worrisome conversations lately with UX pros and even with students entering the industry who have expressed fear and concern that fakers are going to hijack the UX industry. The fakers they refer to are described as folks who are new to the industry who are self proclaimed experts. I have a few thoughts on this subject.

1. UX is a massive field that incorporates numerous sub specialties. For a person to stand up and say they are an “expert in ux” is to say that they are an expert in every sub specialty of an industry that shifts and changes every single day. There are core principles and theories that are timeless and remain the same, but there are only about 5 people alive who could stand up and proclaim to be an expert in every single sub specialty of UX that exists. So in short, I wouldn’t trust a self proclaimed “UX Expert.” And, they’ll out themselves quickly with lack of knowledge if they’re trying to pass off as one. On the other hand, a new person sharing an epic new idea is just a UX community member contributing something awesome. They’re not “faking” anything. They’re just sharing a new awesome idea, and should be celebrated for doing so.

2. There are members of the UX community that have been part of the UX industry for decades. I have the utmost respect for those individuals, they paved the way for the incoming wave of UX professionals whose mission it is to make the world a better place by designing better experiences.

3. One of my favorite aspects of the UX and design communities is that they have always been so welcoming to new comers. I don’t want to see this growing fear of fakers destroy that amazing aspect of our community. We should continue to boost one another up, and pros mentor when possible while continuing to learn new things each day.

4. Our entire industry was created by a group of individuals with innovative ideas that focused on ways we can improve the world around us, and those individuals confidently strode forth proclaiming those ideas. The next wave of UX pros are the future of the industry. They aren’t threats to our profession, they include among them the next generation of visionaries. If we start to discourage them from sharing their new ideas, by making them feel unwelcome, or irrelevant, or “fake,” we’ll be abruptly making our industry irrelevant to the rapidly changing future of design. The newest UX pros and their ideas are our future.

5. Just to be 100% clear, I do not consider myself in any way, shape, or form an expert in any facet of UX at all. I use this blog to share ideas and tips and tricks that work for me, and tools that make my life easier as a UX pro. I’ve been working in the software industry for nearly a decade, have a background in Psychology and I designed and coded my first website way back in 1997 (Yes, it had a scrolling java ticker. I still feel shame.), but I was only introduced to, and fell in love with UX as a career choice 3 years ago. It combines all of the things I love most into one neat, passion inducing package. I consider myself a student of UX, definitely not even remotely close to anything resembling expert. And honestly, I think that anyone who is truly passionate about UX would very likely consider him or her self a lifelong student of UX as well. There are always new exciting things to learn.

6. There are definitely experts in subcategories of UX and there are generalists who work in many facets of UX. There are also the men and women who literally wrote the books that got the industry recognized and on the road to becoming one of the most sought after and in demand careers of this decade. And those folks are on pedestals for life. They are our industry founders and deserve tons of respect for all the blood sweat and tears they have put in to making the UX industry what it is today. These people can call themselves UX experts all day long if they want to, because that’s exactly what they are.

In summary, I want to thank the individuals who founded the industry, and again reiterate that I have the utmost respect for those individuals. And to the future UX innovators, be confident but not cocky. Respect the foundation the industry was built on, but don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard. Your innovative ideas are what will continue to launch our industry into the future. Sharing your new exciting ideas doesn’t make you a faker, it makes you a valued member of our UX community! Thank you in advance for the epic contributions you’ll make to our industry!

8 thoughts on “UX Professionals: Don’t Fear The Fakers

  1. Great stuff, they can fake all they want, when it comes to actually getting shit done they will fail to execute, the cream of the crop will always rise. I think the root of the problem stems from the looseness/overlap of the job titles and how everyone treats them differently. If you need a design or UX mentor you should sign up to http://mymentor.io (mobile app) or if you want to mentor, come join!

  2. I agree with the bulk of this post, but where I see the real problem is these incoming “UX professionals” who have never spoken to an end user, never conducted a usability test, never done actual user research of any kind. I see more and more visual designers and front end developers re-branding themselves as “UX” because they feel their ability to code slick looking UI qualifies them as “user experience”. I have hosted events and taught workshops and had negative feedback from attendees unhappy that we “wasted so much time” talking about things like research, empathy mapping or personas. They just want to know the best way to make wireframes so they can sell UX as a service to their clients. It’s extremely frustrating, and it *does* make me worry about UX as a profession.

    SEO gained a bad reputation in a similar way: People came in and sold themselves as SEO experts, companies saw no decent return on their investment in the practice and everyone’s credibility suffered. I’ve already dealt with several projects where the clients were UX-skeptical because of prior bad experience.

    I agree UX is an umbrella term for a variety of different skills and disciplines, but when practitioners who really have no depth–and who frankly see no point in talking to actual end users–start labelling themselves in this way we are in trouble. No one is enough of an “expert” to avoid contact with the people we are designing for.

  3. Really cool post! I too am a keen UXer. I have not yet worked as a UX designer yet, but I am working towards it. There isn’t much of a demand here in South Africa for UX designers. I think for me the passion for this subject is that it is so vast and ever-changing but at the end of the day its about humans and understanding how we behave and interact with things makes it even more exciting. Its like science, psychology, design, creativity and business all rolled into one awesome bundle.

    1. How exciting for you!!! Once you’ve been bitten by the UX love bug, you’re in it for the long haul! 🙂 I never thought I’d find a career that I could absolutely love, but I did! I hope that you’re able to find a position soon. Welcome to the UX community! 🙂

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