What Blue Jeans Teach Us About UX Design
By Raymond Stone on July 7, 2019
This article is also on Medium.
I will begin this by explaining what inspired this post. I recently discovered a sizable hole in the crotch of the Gap blue jeans I've worn as my primary pair of bottoms over the past year. The brand actually doesn't matter, but the kid in me can't get over the coincidence of a product sporting the brand name “Gap” forming an actual gap. Anyway, so this afternoon—an afternoon during the 4th of July weekend and an afternoon following the morning in which the United States national team proudly wrapped up its FIFA Women's World Cup journey—it felt like the most American thing to do to pick this day to replace my worn out jeans.
About the title—what exactly do blue jeans have to do with UX design? In general, design solves unique problems with creative solutions. When shopping for clothing, the consumer must consider the following factors when solving the unique problem that comes in the form of her/his body: calf shape and size, thigh shape and size, butt shape and size, inseam length, and overall lifestyle. The consumer also must find a solution that conforms to her/his taste while maintaining a standard of strength. I use blue jeans as an example because jeans have more functional value than most other articles of clothing. Like a user experience design, it must remain reliable, feel good, and do it in style throughout the duration of its lifespan.
In this case, think of the jeans brand as the tech company or design agency responsible for deploying the user experience, and think of the designers for a particular line of jeans as the digital product team responsible for building the UX. For a particular group of users the product team along with its UX designers must take into consideration a finite number of highly likely scenarios in which the users will use the product. The product team then must build a product that looks good, feels good, and enables users to accomplish certain tasks without the product either getting in the way or flat out breaking.
I know. This comparison may seem like more of a stretch than my old blue jeans crotch could bear, but as creatives (artists, designers, etc.) we exist in large part due to our ability to form new connections between ideas.