There’s a tendency (at least among designers) to think that it’s designers who own the user experience. After all, designers are the ones who define it, right? This button goes there and it’s blue. But the more I think about it, the more I come to realize that ownership rests in those who provide the resources to get the product built, and in those who actually build the products: the developers and manufacturers. They are the true owners of the user experience.
I say this because their decisions, more than anyone else’s, can affect the overall experience of using a product. You could design the most amazing features in the world, but if they’re inside a cheap case being powered by unreliable code, the experience is not going to be good.
The best experiences, digital and analog, almost always start with reliability. A sporadic service or device, unless truly exceptional, novel, and/or rare, need to have some consistency of use. When I press a key, I want something to happen. When I go to a store during business hours, I expect it to be open. I have to trust that my expectations will be met. If they repeatedly aren’t, I will lose faith in the product and look elsewhere. Most things start in stability.
This reliability begins with enough resources (time, money, staff, equipment) to build and eventually maintain the product, and then to actually do so via development and manufacturing. While designers often have input into these processes and occasionally are those builders, more often than not, they depend on the expertise of others to accomplish what they have imagined. Designers may be the generators of the product vision, but they are not usually the owners. It’s designers’ job to convince the real product owners of the value of their vision so that the products of the future can be built.