why I call myself a “UX Architect”.

Time to read: 2 minutes

People with my skills have been called UI designers, business analysts, information architects, interaction designers and a few other things besides. This is confusing and tiring. I have chosen “UX Architect”, and I have a reason.
Firstly, “UX” stands for user experience, and is an offshoot of Human-Computer Interaction.

My choice of “UX Architect” is deliberate and based on the “building” metaphor. Let me tell you a story.

Picture a building. An office building.

Typically there are three people involved in constructing a building: An Architect, a Civil Engineer, and a Designer. 

ACME Inc. are expanding. They need new offices, and they have a plot of land to develop. They go talk to an Architect about what to do with it. 

The Architect asks them about their vision, their business, staff numbers, business practices (many meetings? brainstormings? one-to-ones? collaborations?…), departments and of course budget, and starts the design.
Architect: Who will use it? What will it be used for?

After he is done, a Civil Engineer is hired to confirm this can be built and will stand the test of time (and rain, and sidewinds, and collisions, and earthquakes, and sun rays, …). Good Architects have some construction experience and know have to design buildable things. The Engineer performs an analysis, and confirms budgets, timelines, etc for the construction.
Civil Engineer: Will it stand? How will we build it?

Once the building has been constructed (or, ideally, during the early stages of construction) a Designer will be brought in to understand what each area will be used for, and to give it character (branding). They will create mockups of the space, try out different layouts, furniture and colours, while always working with the Architect to ensure everything is where it is supposed to be for the usage it will have, and with the Engineer to make sure it will be possible.
Designer: What will it look like? 

So you see, it’s a 3-people team, and a simple process. The Architect plans where things go based on how they will be used. The Civil Engineer decides how it will be built. And the Designer gives it character (branding). 

In Web Tech terms, Engineers are like Developers, Designers are… designers, and it’s only recently that the Architects have appeared. 

This is why I choose to be called a UX Architect. Because my insight is most useful at the beginning of the project, when talking to the client about their staff, clients, and ambitions. About business goals and user goals. About “why”.

Any time later than the beginning is too late. Some small tweaks can still be done. Maybe you can knock a wall down and expand the kitchen into the living room. But you’ll never get an extra bathroom downstairs. 

Always hire an Architect.

It won’t be the engineer / builder who will think about which way the front door should open so visitors are ushered into the living room rather than the kitchen. It will be the Architect. Many Engineers do think about the people using the space. But it’s not their job. 

Always hire an Architect. 

We put ourselves in the shoes of the visitor and the business. We have a unique perspective, and always advocate for usage, for the “why” to be understood. 
That’s what you’re paying for. An obsessive, highly visual, spatially aware, human-centred design expert. The world is built at the human scale. 

Always hire an Architect. 
For web & mobile projects: a UX Architect ;)

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