UX Crash Course: Stupid Question 3 of 30

UX is fairly new in the business world, and since humans try to understand new things in terms of what they already know,
you might get this question:

Is UX just marketing and development working together?


Just starting the Crash Course? Start here!


The way I wrote that is a little bit generous, because usually it is phrased like “Isn’t UX just marketing and development working together?” — as if marketers and developers have never worked together before, or UX isn’t really worth discussing as a separate thing.

That says a lot about typical businesses and how they see designers and developers. Tech people are people too!

Well… most of them. Every once and a while I see a guy in a nice suit calling himself a programmer. I am pretty sure those ones are aliens who haven’t quite mastered our culture yet.

But I digress…

This question is sort of like asking: “Is designing a house just the painters and the plumbers working together?”


The stupid answer:

No. The result of two departments working together is not a new type of job. Departments are supposed to work together.


The real answer:

UX is related to both, but it is neither marketing nor development.

Some of the newest marketing techniques (e.g. - “growth hacking”) actually have roots in user experience design and research. UX designers use analytics like online marketers, but we’re more concerned with users after they get to our product, while marketers are mostly concerned with getting people to the product in the first place. “Traffic” vs. “Users”.

UX is a discipline of its own. 

UXers do things that marketers don’t, like information architecture and copywriting that people can understand.

UXers do things that developers don’t, like working with product strategy, or talking to people outside the company on purpose.


Why this isn’t a stupid question:

Average people often don’t consider the idea that everything was designed by someone. The idea that one design can change your behaviour compared to another might sound like science fiction.

Remember that UX is new. Someone is not stupid because they don’t understand what it is.

Marketers have spent the last 100+ years starting with the business. They started with a product, decided who the customer should be, and then proceeded to create that customer.

In UX we do that backwards.

We start by researching the customer’s problem and design a solution for that. For an old-school marketer, UX might sound like taking a shit in church.

Or it might sound like something they always wished they could do, like taking a shit in church.

Developers haven’t really discussed users until fairly recently. In the 1960′s a programmer worked with a computer the size of a room, and used punch cards, like an animal!

Now devs talk about app performance as a user problem!

So it’s actually not that weird if someone tries to understand UX as “marketing + dev” but it’s also not correct.


Tomorrow we will answer the stupid question: If my logo makes people happy, is that UX design?”