The Horizon of a New Destiny is Upon Us: The UX Agency – The Future is Here, Now – What??

Haha, sorry for the stupid title..I don’t know if it’s because I’m watching the new Star Trek movie, or because this guy’s blog’s tone reminds me of it, but this blog article I ran into the other day, by Anthony Franco, was really cool. It describes a new kind of Agency emerging in our internet/software era, called the User Experience Agency.

Anthony is a founder of what I believe is the first UX Agency of its kind.

He can explain it a lot better than I can, but it pretty much is what it sounds like. And he makes some really good points…one in particular that I like a lot, is him talking about Bill Buxton, who spoke on User Experience at a Microsoft Conference in 2009:

“He drew a connection between “Industrial Design” and “Experience Design” disciplines. He explained that in the 1920’s, there was no degree in Industrial Design, and that most people that were good were very unique individuals and that they were from very diverse backgrounds. He continued to describe Experience Design is in much the same predicament today as Industrial Design was 80+ years ago.”

I think this has to be very true, and it’s because the technology now, just like back in the 1920’s, requires a different kind of thinking than what is usually around.

The reason I really like this blog, and what this company is trying to do, is because it is very cutting edge. When I read the blog I could even feel his emphasis on how ground breaking it all is from his view. He also continually refers to both Experience Design and User Experience as disciplines, like they’re some kind of sacred Kung Fu that has just recently arisen within the Ninja ranks..or something.. He’s not wrong, I guess they could be disciplines, it’s just not that big a deal..

To me it’s kinda funny, because as a 21 year old, this stuff seems like a no brainer for me. I’ve never really seen, or been old enough to realize, an age where User Experience wasn’t a key focus of online, or software development, as this blogger points out, was definitely not always the case. Although I’ve certainly seen the consequences of poor User Experience planning, the opposite was usually true.

So the initial shock of “wow, something like this now exists”..kinda went up and over my head a long time ago, and I wasn’t fazed. I was kinda like “yea, so? It wasn’t there before? why?” I see this perception as a perk that a lot of younger people are now able to exploit in designing for the farther and beyond future.

Even when we were 7-8 years old, looking at something as basic as windows 95, or early macs, in that time, that was a great user experience and interface..they were the best. Then we just kept getting continually bombarded with versions that were even better still. It just seemed like such a natural progression, and not so much of a technological wonder, to us. In fact, I think just being around UI’s and using them basically our whole lives, qualifies most of us to be experienced UI designers.

So the fact that someone, who, from what I can tell, is anywhere from 40-50 years old, who realizes what many his age don’t, and is creating a new kind of agency that addresses specifically User Experience as a central quality, is definitely a truly ground breaking thing, and something I’ve been waiting for for a while now. What I am actually continually surprised at is the lack of people who are doing things like this. Why is this the first agency of it’s kind? Haven’t people known about this for a while now? I think it comes down to people not wanting to take risks.

Right now we are in a crazy time where the potential of the internet is not even known by most people. There is soo much room for innovation and pioneering, but not many have stepped forward.

It comes down to the fact that there are not enough people of that age range, who are the majority of the people with any means, that are stepping away and looking at the future of our technology, and saying, “we need to go there now, and invest the time into making our technology and our user’s experiences better, now.”

It just doesn’t happen very much at all in today’s business world, and both those businesses, and the public are loosing out on things that are very doable, but are not invested into, often for fear, or uncertainty, or belief that other people who know more about it are already doing it..but guess what..those people don’t have the money to do it yet!

Of course this stuff is standard, of course people have known about it for a while now, but people still haven’t organized themselves in a way that integrates this new knowledge into their businesses, in order to capitalize on opportunities for themselves and their customers. We need to all take that first step. Seeing a new kind of Agency like this emerge is really refreshing, in this respect.

Right now we are in a strange stand still, where we have the technological means to do a lot, but the people with the power and money to make them happen are ill-informed of the potential of the technology. They just don’t know what’s possible. In order to end this stand still, it’s the responsibility of anybody who actually has the means to be able to invest into more stable technological infrastructure, to do so, at any given opportunity, so we can start to feel the benefits of the technology now, when we need it the most.

This is why I applaud Anthony Franco and what he is trying to do, because he seems to get, more so than many others, the trends that are going to contribute to technology’s success in the future, and what kind of effort it really entails, in terms of software development, in order to reach this potential. I think it’s a brilliant idea, that he’s taken the lack of that vision in this society, and has developed a service to counter-act it. I think he will be very successful.

I do think that User Experience should be the main focus of all software development, but only AFTER Solving the Problems that the software was put there for in the first place.

I believe there must be a reason for software to exist, and that reason, should be to serve as a solution to a problem. If not, then why use it? What could make a product better than something that’s already there unless it solves a problem that still exists with present methods, even if it does have a better UI.

I just thought I would point this guy out to people, because what he is doing is so rare, and also a great thing. I do however, think he, and others in this field, have a lot to learn from the younger generation, who, to them, this stuff is all just getting pretty boring. I can’t wait until a time where more people my age now (21), are owning their own companies, and not only investing in technology, but building their businesses around it. Then maybe the whole world will seem to be more like Star Trek, and not just this guy’s blog on User Experience.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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5 responses to “The Horizon of a New Destiny is Upon Us: The UX Agency – The Future is Here, Now – What??

  1. Pingback: El horizonte de un nuevo destino está sobre nosotros: la agencia ux - el futuro está aquí y ahora - ¿qué??

  2. Most design agencies that do interactive have UX people in-house in the modern agency. We have two folks who handle it and incidentally did the UX for your system. 🙂

    • Definitely, UX people are always needed for any kind of interactive software design, but I think that it’s such a big piece of the puzzle that it deserves this extra attention. I thought it was a pretty great idea for these guys to create a whole agency around it. It gives the appearance that they must be better at it than an agency that just have a UX department. That may or may not be true, but the appearance is there.

  3. Awesome site! First time here. I love the mobile theme you’re using: is it a custom job, or a plugin, or what? It looks and feels great.

    Regarding UX, though: you’re suggesting that experience be developed (designed) after having solved the initial problem the software is meant for. But the user experience– for any app– IS the key to how a problem is solved. In other words, short of having a highly technical, mathematic problem (like, for example, Google’s algorithms), most of the time you’re actually trying to solve a problem for the user. You’re trying to have a notes app that syncs, or you’re trying to build a cloud-based CRM, or you’re trying to make a Twitter client. In all these cases, the back-end work is obviously important: but without a very solid sense of how the user is going to work with your product, what they’re going to need and how they’re going to try to get it, you don’t have a product– you just have code.

    In my view many software companies are still making this mistake. Microsoft continued to pump out new versions of Office by producing new features (code) without planning how the user experience would be affected first. This meant that Word kept growing more and more toolbars (I think 27 was the highest) until, finally, they decided to combine functions and scale down.

    Another good example is Adobe: Photoshop’s panels and many dialog boxes are the result of grafting new code onto a system whose USER EXPERIENCE is meant for a smaller set of features. When you start thinking of how to create a user experience that takes all those features into account, you end up with something completely different– like UPoint tech (which I think is owned by Nik?).

    All I’m saying is, good experience design is how you determine what your product IS, and what it will become. And it’s essential!

  4. Hey DM, firstly I think this mobile theme is just a plug-in or something, it is pretty good gotta say.

    Secondly, I think you are absolutely right. I think whoever is designing the solutions that the software solves, has to be the person who designs the interface. They don’t have to be a coder but they have to explain how things need to fit together. I think, as you’ve shown, the crucial piece that is often missing is that the person that decides the ultimate future direction of the project, also should, whenever possible, be the ux designer, so that in their innitial design, they can plan for growth, and understand where it will be coming from. I think this piece of knowledge, or pieces, about future growth must be addressed from the start, and it is often completely overlooked, especially when ppl try to base their interface off of other well known “styles” such as say Photoshop and Finalcut, and then new software ends up inheriting growth problems from another designs. This is a mistake often made. Each piece of software has it’s own functions and solutions and needs to be treated uniquely to reach the max potential for UX. So I believe it’s best when the person designing the interface also designs the code, and designs the future functionality. However since this is often not the case, it’s important for UX designers to get into the heads of these people as much as possible.

    So I do think that the UX designers should design the solutions and THEN the interface. I really think they need to do both, and THEN code it. When I say design the solutions, I mean design the code, not necessarily coding itself, just designing the logic. However good UX designers should be able to take existing code and redesign a better interface around it, but they should be able to modify the code as they see fit for the most efficient design. UX design is one of my passions. I happen to be lucky enough to be the logic architect, the interface designer and the CEO of my company so I’m pretty spoiled in already having all of the knowledge that I need to make my interface and software expandable(infinitely – almost like an iPhone), simple, effective, and fun from the start. These 3 positions – logic architect, UX designer, and CEO – I feel must be in harmony and well integrated together to come up with the best UX solutions for the users and the company. What do you think?

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