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Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence

Posted July 8, 2011

Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence

This is a confusing as hell statement. It takes me a while to get what it means every time I use it or say it. So, I’m going to try and draw a parallel as to why this relates to UX design.

You’re a stakeholder, and you’re looking at your product (be it a site, app, whatever). You don’t see anything wrong with it, so you assume that this proves there is nothing wrong and that everything is great. But just because you don’t see anything wrong doesn’t mean that things are right.

Now, I want to make a special note: I am not saying “because you don’t see anything wrong, you assume that nothing is wrong.” What I am trying to say is “Just because you don’t see anything wrong, doesn’t mean that things are right.” I draw this distinction because often without any real UX, UI, IxD and IA, you may very well be satisfied with “neutral” because the pain points are removed and things are “working” without any apparent defects. It’s like cooking a dish and saying “This is not disgusting.” That statement might satisfy your requirements, but it’s not stating that the dish is good; it may very well be totally bland and neutrally appealing/unappealing.

That is a mediocre analogy of why UX is often needed. The app, the site, the interaction, they aren’t painful or glaring. So why hire a UX guy – things are fine. And they probably are. But I think things should be great.

That’s why I have such a work ethic and drive to always be improving things and driving towards a higher level of construction. No matter how well something performs, no matter how satisfying the experience, you can always work at improving it. Or at least try. Until you reach an undeniable plateau of awesomeness, there’s always more to do. And if you do reach that plateau where you just can’t make it better – move on to something else and now try to make it as awesome as it can be.

It takes a specific personality type to have this drive. And in fact, it might even be a detriment in cases where your dive and passion is seen as officious. Often, people just have these traits, or they don’t. Some people leave work at work, some people go home and chew on the same problems they were working on at work, and keeping working on them all night, not because they love to work – but because they love to solve the problems whether they are “at work” or not. Money, luxury, freedom; these aren’t the goals. Solving problems, figuring things out, and seeing the problem solving as an end unto itself.

Workaholics Anonymous.

I love all things experience design. I work as a Principal Service Experience Designer at Intuit in Mountain View, CA.

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