I work as a UX designer. UX is jargon; I do “user experience”. That’s still jargon.
I’m in the business of making software better for people who use it. This includes things like knowing what information to share with the person using the software, and what information to ask for. This includes fighting for their privacy by not asking for more information than is absolutely necessary. “UX design” means that I work for the user, not the engineer, and not the businessperson; that said, it’s part of my job to hear their needs and account for them, too. It means that I translate end user needs, like privacy, simplicity, and ease of use, into screens and flows that our engineers can build and our business people can roll out. I’m in this field because I believe in making things better for other people.
As this field has evolved, one truth continues to ring true: you are not the user. From that, it follows that we must know and understand and empathize with our users to build for them. I have to know my user’s struggles, frustrations, aspirations, workflows, and work environments. Empathy and relentless, respectful curiosity are the most important tools I can wield to accomplish these aims. And when these tools are applied appropriately is when beautiful, intuitive products are created.
This requires getting out and talking to people, hearing their stories, and feeling their pain before it’s possible to design something that suits their needs. Once I understand who I’m building for, what their problems are, and what would fix them, then I’ve found the right place to start designing from. Elizabeth Warren designs her policies this way: people-first.
According to John Russell, a rural Iowa political coordinator and #TeamWarren organizer, “members of [Sen. Warren’s] team are empowered to personalize their jobs and recruit Iowans into a grassroots movement for change,” (source). It’s this involvement, this outreach to the “users” of her rural policy, that is why this UX designer believes in this political candidate. We know that it’s best practice to involve users from day one. Hear what their needs really are, not just what the business thinks they are. Use our tools to help alleviate their problems, and, if we’re doing our jobs really well: empower our users in the process. From what I’ve seen through my own participation, and from what I’m hearing from other supporters around the country, John Russell is absolutely right. Supporters are empowered. We are supported in growing this campaign. Everyday citizens, the grassroots: we own this campaign. We own this movement. We are this movement.
And Senator Warren recognizes that. She’s the first presidential candidate, ever, to participate in the now-famous “selfie line”. She values the contributions of everyday folks so much that, in this primary, she’s refusing to take big donor money. You can see it in her campaign finances. Her campaign finance director thought that this prioritization of her “users” — us, voters, the electorate — was such a bad decision that he quit over it. Can you imagine one of your POs being so frustrated with your conviction to advocate endlessly for your user that they actually left the project? Meanwhile, Warren’s fundraising totals demonstrate that this advocacy and prioritization was an excellent decision. We care about being heard.
It is this people-driven politics that has me, as a UX designer and as a voter, fired up and all in for Warren. If you’re feeling fired up, too, here’s the link to become one of the small-dollar supporters: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/
And here’s a link to her arsenal of detailed, people-first plans: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans
And if you want to meet other supporters, volunteer, or otherwise get involved with the grassroots in your area, here’s the link to do that: https://elizabethwarren.com/events. If you’re local to Atlanta, chances are you’ll find me there, ready to dream big and fight hard for the everyday electorate — the users of her well-designed policies.