Kebab shop UX

Wondermags HQ office is located in a small town in Luxembourg. There’s a kebab shop around the corner. We like to go there very often, the whole team. But today I went alone. I took a book that I was currently reading with me — Do Good Design.

The owner of the shop is very friendly. He speaks a dozen of languages but always greets me in English as soon as I walk in (he already knows that I don’t speak either French or German — both used in Luxembourg). He offered to shake my hand as he always does and asked how I was doing. I replied with my usual: “I’m OK”, and smiled. At this moment he noticed my book. He must have read the title because he asked me what is it that I do.

“I’m a user experience designer…”, I replied, expecting a follow–up question…

“A user experience designer? What’s that?”, he asked, as I expected.

“I design user experiences…” I started my reply as I was trying to think of an example to explain it better.

“OK, but what do you mean by… user experience?”, he asked again even before I was able to came up with my example. At that moment I realized. There was a perfect example right in front of me.

“You see this?”, I asked while trying to point to the interaction we were having using my hand…

“This is similar to a user experience”, I continued.

He was silent and waiting for me to elaborate.

“Us, having this chat, you greeting me in English straight–away, offering me a hand shake and asking me how I was… This is a user experience…”, I began to elaborate.

“Followed up by a great product that I keep coming here for, means that I have an enjoyable overall user experience every time I come over”.

He looked at me with an expression of surprise on his face as he asked:

“There’s jobs where you design this?!”

For a business owner, coming from an eastern culture, he couldn’t understand that what he does in his everyday with every customer has to be designed. For him, all this comes naturally. No fake smiles, no fake attitude.

The whole experience made me think. The more I thought about it, the more I was coming to a conclusion that a good user experience isn’t something that can be designed. It’s something that has to be embedded in the culture from which the product is coming from. It has to be embedded into the group of people behind the product. We can design ways to introduce the right way of thinking towards providing a good experience but the desire for providing a good experience has to come naturally. The only thing worse than a bad user experience is a fake user experience.

Matej Latin

I’m a self-taught designer proving that you don’t need a design degree to make a career in design. I went from doing boring graphic design work to working for big tech companies as a Product Designer. I thrive in the grey area between design and web development and I wrote a book about web typography for designers and web developers.

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