“If I were to sum up the history of UX in a few short sentences, it might go something like this: villains of industry seek to deprive us of our humanity. Scientists, scholars, and designers prevail, and a new profession flourishes, turning man’s submission to technology into technology’s submission to man.” – L. Buley in The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide
Buley describes the movement towards user-centered design in technology. Things were not always that way. Before graphical user interfaces became standard, using a computer required being familiar with command line interfaces for every tasks. The user would need to memorize syntax in order to complete tasks on the computer. When GUIs were developed in the 1970s and became standard in personal computers, images of windows, icons, menus, and pointers replaced text-based commands. The GUI democratized computer use for many people because it reduced the need have specialized knowledge of the command line.
The user-centered focus of information architecture could create the kind of impact that GUIs did in the 1980s. I see UX design as being design that takes extreme consideration of users of technology and their emotions. Information architects and related people translate user needs into effective information systems that find and organize information. UX design can also be seen as a next-level of information architecture that not only implies form and function, but can evoke new user behaviors. Instead of making people think, technology should be intuitive and easy for people to interact with. This can be achieved through a user’s experience on the GUI, or controlling the flow of data behind the scenes. Technology is becoming more and more forgiving of users not knowing how information systems work, and it is the information architect or UX designer’s job to increase that forgiveness.