In my last column, Brian Herzog shared the hows and whys of his brilliant idea to Work Like a Patron to help library staff build empathy for users. I had a few interesting conversations with folks who read that article (sidebar: I talked to more people about that article than any other article I’ve written for this column! Hooray for Open Shelf and free, open access to content), which went something like this (I’m paraphrasing):
Random librarian: Working like a patron is a great idea. But is that real user experience work?
Me: Hell yes! Anything that gives you insight into the behaviour of your users is real UX work.
Those conversations got me thinking. At the time I found it interesting that most of the librarians I spoke to about that article expressed a sense that there might be a “real” or good way to do UX work, and therefore also a “bad” or fake way to do it. I think those same librarians sort of assumed that there’s a specific, finite set of methods that define UX work and if a particular method (say, Work Like a Patron Day) isn’t part of that set of methods, then that means it’s fake, or bad UX.