I'm sure this topic has come up many times before (I did a Google search on Designer News and found a couple of unrelated but similar stories), but ...
After 10 years of being a UX designer, starting out as a stubborn, over-confident designer, making lots and lots of cringe-worthy mistakes, and little by little growing into, and becoming a real UX practitioner by understanding the importance of doing user research first, ... I'm ready to throw in the towel.
I'm tired. Of asking, begging, coaxing my peers and managers and others to do just a little user research, and getting empty promises in return, getting the run around, and just hitting wall after wall. This is my third company where I've had the title of "UX designer" or something similar, and with the exception of several usability testing sessions that I had to fight tooth and nail for, I've rarely had the opportunity to talk to an actual user. I have to depend on the opinions of stakeholders who themselves have spoken to (gasp!) actual users, but when I ask for the same opportunity, just ignore my requests.
I mean, how dare I call myself a UX designer, when I'm not even doing ... user research. Without the user, I'm just a designer.
The kicker was a lunch with the team on a new product that we're launching. We were celebrating a milestone: a year before, I was certain the product was going to be killed, but thanks to the tenacity of the product manager, it was now ready to go to beta. A HUGE milestone. During that year, I had begged and pleaded for a chance to talk to users. "Sure, sure," was the response I got. Over and over again. And then nothing.
During that lunch, I found out that the developers on the team had gone to an actual user's office and got to see how the users work. That killed it for me. I felt deflated. The user experience designer wasn't allowed to talk to users, but the developers were.
I'm probably doing something wrong, and that's why I haven't been able to succeed in getting to talk to users. And if that's the case, then why am I still a UX designer? I see articles by Jared Spool, and Nick Finck, and Jeffrey Zeldman, chiding UX designers for not talking to users. Maybe they're right. I'm not a UX designer. I'm just a designer.
And it's time to get out of the way, and let real UX designers do the job.