How I Accidentally Killed Several UX Designers
Recently, I perpetrated a serious tactical error that resulted in a number of User Experience Designers (UXers) being found unexpectedly dead. As a front-end developer, this has done little to buoy my professional reputation.
I first knew there was something wrong when I was unable to reach some of my regular contacts in the company’s UX discipline. I asked around but everyone I spoke to was equally perplexed.
One colleague made the alarming observation that every single one of these absentees had omitted the obligatory pill: the agreed symbol for sick leave on one’s Slack profile. Whatever had befallen them, it was severe enough to deprioritize the typing of emoji.
Then is got weirder. The UX Designers I could reach… started becoming unreachable too. Not a pill emoji in sight. Had Elon Musk bought the company? Was this the first round of redundancies-at-random?
The next thing that happened I’ll take to my grave (not literally). Someone—whose name I didn’t recognize from the email notification—shared their Figma project to me. This project consisted of a single image with a line of accompanying text. The image showed a person’s face, horrifically contorted in terror and seemingly drained of blood, and the text (Roboto, Thin 100, Slate Grey) used the active voice recommended by our style guide: “You did this.”
What had I done? Was I really guilty of this horror? And why was this being shared to me in Figma, I thought we had agreed to stick with Sketch for the time being? It’s not like I’m team Sketch or anything, I just think the transition will put pressure on resources at a critical time?
The next day: Another notification. Another unfamiliar name. Another Figma project. This time it contained a video (supported for files in Education, Professional, Organization, or Enterprise teams). The video showed a figure standing at a desk, in front of an open Macbook, with their head cut off. Cut off by the frame, I mean, not by an axe or something like that.
The figure presses a few keys and there’s a pause. Suddenly, their body stiffens and they begin to shake, as if trying to escape the grasp of a demon. A burst of esoteric words and phrases cascades from their mouth. I can make out “curly brace”, “const”, and “triple equals”.
With the head still out of shot, I’m spared the subject’s face going all Ringu and whatnot. But I am subjected to footage of their trousers falling down and their legs catching on fire, which is something that is not supposed to happen.
It’s unclear to me why anyone would be filming this or why they wouldn’t put their phone down to help someone in such obvious discomfort (and I implore you not to dwell on this part too much because it might start to resemble a plot hole).
But what did become clear to me was my mistake. Just before the disappearances, followed by the (really quite annoying) Figma email notification noise, I had re-documented some of our components. And I had committed the cardinal sin of documenting high-level design and technical implementation details next to each other, in the same page!
Now, whenever a UX designer arrives at the documentation, they are viscerally subjected to content that is not, strictly speaking, intended for them, at least not in their current prescribed role, preconceived as “non-technical”, even though it may be somewhat useful for context, as apprehended in whole or in part.
As I curse the human brain’s fundamental inability to either automatically filter out information it doesn’t find relevant (which is actually something it does all the time), process simple labels like “Installation” or “Code example”, or appreciate form and function as two sides of the same coin I hear my phone ring just once (because after the first ring I decide to answer it).
“Fool. Don’t you know that when you become a UX designer you forfeit the ability to speak the (un)ancient tongues?”
“No, I’m a developer.”
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to assume you aren’t technically minded. Anyway byeee—”
“Wait, if you forfeit the ability to read code, which is what I think you were saying, just in a more insufferable way, what do you get in return?”
“Ahahahaha but that is the whole curse! You get nothing.”
“Yikes. I’m not sure I want the story to end this way. Now it sounds like the author is taking a stab at UX Designers when really they’re defending their ability to demarcate and/or appreciate technical information.”