Jared’s post reminded me of the discussion we had on that day as well and I thought I’d ramble and write about the topic. Most of us are training to be “user experience professionals.” However, I don’t believe user experience professionals will ever able to be attain the same professional status as Medical Doctors and Engineers. Now, I believe most people won’t find that argument too surprising. However, I want to argue that it should be more gray and complex. A professional has many connotations, but the two I’m going to ramble about is that

  1. A professional acts in a professional manner and there’s an established code of ethics.
  2. There is an established body outside of the normal judicial system to hold them to said rules and punish members that do not adhere to them.

Both doctors and some engineers such as those who build bridges and nuclear power plants fit this definition. These professions and others have successfully argued to society that only they should have an exclusive right to practice their craft because others will get hurt if others besides themselves practice their craft. By this I mean that if any of us were to setup a doctor’s office and started to treat people, it would be shutdown, and for good reason; most people would hope that when they’re on an operating table the surgeon knows his saw from his scalpel or else you might find yourself with one less kidney.

Now where am I going with this? Design is dangerous. It changes the way people behave and how they should think and not always for the “best.” It’s why were taught in this school to be “human-centered” and that we should go through the process of figuring out what people really want before going down that direction. And yet, everyone designs sometimes. Cross calls

The evidence from different cultures around the world, and from designs created by children as well as by adults, suggests that everyone is capable of designing. So design thinking is something inherent within human cognition; this is a key part of what makes us human.

This is troubling for crafting a profession because of its exclusive right to practice its craft. It would be wrong to monopolize design thinking in what Cross calls design thinking. Now am I saying we should professionalize? It’s hard to say. There are probably organizations out there for UX professionals that are trying to do this, but obviously there are a lot of problems here. I will end this rant with one final thought. I suppose it is the utmost importance that our designs must come from somewhere and they mustn’t be “just magic” and that we recognize this. I would probably argue that thinking that our designs emerge from conjuration are more likely to lead to poor design decisions that influence people in “non-good” ways.