UX vs. Traditional Web Design
User Experience Design is design thinking that puts the user first, it focusses on observing the user in real world contexts, gaining insight into their behaviors while interacting with a product or service, and aims to understand a user in a way the designers can empathize with in order to design a product that will work best for the user. In contrast, early web design did not focus so much on the user and his/her experiences with an interface but rather was a product of whatever the designers built based on content and his/her style preferences for their audience.
There are concerns, according to Cennydd Bowles in Looking Beyond User-Centered Design, that while it has “served the digital community well,” User Centered Design may limit designer’s creativity. Done right, UCD is meant to serve the user and create an exceptional user experience, which may also mean one designer’s work may be indistinguishable from another. Bowles mentions the popular quotes of late that suggest good design is invisible and argues that these ideas negate a designer’s unique influence on UX. Because style is crucial for the evolution of any creative field, he worries there may not be room for a designer to “pioneer entirely new approaches” within this system of UCD in UX Design.
Design will never be scientific, as systematic as some approaches to design become, because there are so many contexts, variables, and behaviors involved. Moving forward, it’s important to understand UCD as well as other approaches to UX design in order to understand and grasp the scope of any given project. As far as style goes, there is room for us to pioneer new approaches because there are always new problems for us to solve that will require a designer’s unique history and perspective. It will require a lot of collaboration and brainstorming to discover these new approaches, and we are moving towards that space.