User Experience is not (Just) a Band-Aid™

lucky monkey bandages
photo from flickr user Christopher Matson

Did you know that the inventor of Band-Aid™ adhesive bandages invented them for his wife? In 1920, Earle Dickson put gauze and adhesive tape together so that his wife could keep from cutting her fingers while preparing food in the kitchen.

This reminded me of how user experience is sometimes treated in organizations. It’s clear that Mrs. Dickson needed better knife handling skills, or maybe Mr. Dickson needed to do his own durn cooking. Instead, good ol’ Earle came up with a quick fix* that merely covered up a deeper and more troubling concern. Similarly, instead of having user experience involved at every stage of the development process and building something better from the start, we ask for quick fixes that will temporarily plaster over a problem that needs a better, and more carefully thought-out solution.

And just like with adhesive bandages, quickie UX solutions often cause pain when you try to pull them off.

In short: don’t give your projects short shrift. For the long-term success and health of your projects, be sure to involve user experience consultants at every phase of development.

*Granted, his quick fix is a permanent part of our culture, but the basic purpose of Band-Aids hasn’t changed.