Operation never user semicolon

Uncovering the secrets of the User Experience community at the UX Insider conference


I recently infiltrated a top-secret meeting of the tech Illuminati. They call themselves UX professionals. They come up with elaborate diagrams to confuse us:

Adi Kavaler from SAP trying to explain UX

Sometimes it’s like they’re speaking another language:

No idea what’s going on here

My mission: to discover what the hell UX really is, and if deemed necessary, reveal their true intentions to the world in an explosive follow-up exposé blog post.

Warning. These debriefing notes are highly classified. What you’re about to read must only be shared with your immediate family. And possibly your friends. And colleagues. Oh and maybe your neighbours. And your neighbours family. Actually just put the link on social media.

0800 hours

I’m meditating on the beach, contemplating the day ahead while drinking my daily 12 raw eggs. UX. CX. IxD. CD. MP3. I expected buzzwords thrown at me from all angles. As a highly trained copywriter, I’d been on similar missions before. But never one with so much potentially deadly jargon for the uninitiated. It was time to get going. I ripped off my shirt, tied my bandana round my head and burst into the venue, ready to blow shit up if things got out of hand. Luckily for them I kept my cool. My M60 never left my manbag. But if looks could kill…

The Rambo act worked

The weedy tech types were afraid of my cold stare (or perhaps it was my glistening abs) and I was left well alone. Camo paint on, I crouched down in the shadows at the back of the theatre, scanning the room through my scope as the talks began. So there I was, a lone vigilante, acting on behalf of all those clients who don’t have a clue what UX is. Businesses don’t care about users, they want profits and a solid reputation, I mused. And I was ready to give it to them. By any means necessary. Murmurs faded to expectant silence. The first talk started.

Pep talks from the 8 leaders of the UX insurgency

Design ethics

Not what I was expecting. The spanner in the works threw me off balance, I admit. I recovered enough to take in the odd word here and there. “Design is the rendering of intent”. So now designers are being told to think about the reasons for making something, as well as the impact it has? That’s some commy-ass thinking. But… it…makes…sense. Think more. Not less. Just before my brain melted, the next speaker had taken the stage.

User research for video games

Ah. Here we go. This will be someone who knows the value of some real action every now and then. They’re probably inspiring future generations of grunts as we speak. But wait. They’re asking people for their opinions? It’s not just shooting stuff on a screen? Maybe there’s more to this UX stuff than I thought.

Understanding human behaviour

Psychological warfare. Not my favourite type of warfare, but a powerful tool by any measure. I waited eagerly for the practical techniques to destroy my enemies. And here it comes:

Prioritise humans over technology

Now that’s something we can all agree on. If a robot can ever take me in a knife fight, I’ll eat my helmet. Technology is a tool. Like a screwdriver. Or a tank. Humans should always be the focus of any brand’s efforts.


Once upon a time there was an invincible special agent who took on the UX world and won. The end. There’s your UX storytelling.

Research smarter, not harder

A top user researcher revealed how they’re infiltrating entire organisations. They’re working with designers, developers, and even higher up the chain of command. Their user-centric agenda is spreading. This is far beyond the guerrilla tactics I expected of them. I’ve got my work cut out.

Research Ops

What’s that, some kind of new black ops team? Bring ’em on. I like a challenge.

Research in emerging markets

I did all the research I need back in ’Nam thank you very much.

A user experience revolution

So it all comes down to this. The bastards are planning a goddamn coup! Apparently users have power. The hippies will be pleased. It doesn’t matter that I can bench half a tonne, I can just use my “words” on “Twitter”. By this point I’d had enough. Luckily this point was the end of the conference.

What did my reconnaissance achieve?

I’m going to blow the lid of this UX thing before we have a full-blown war on our hands. Drumroll please…..



UX is just a code name.

UX design is… design.

UX copywriting is… copywriting.

UX research is… understanding people. The UX bit just defines how people work. I could call myself a kangaroo fighting champion because I’m undefeated in that arena. But the way I win is by punching really hard – it doesn’t matter which animal. So why not call myself a boxing champion and be done with it? At A Thousand Monkeys we have a crack team of Ultimate Copywriting Champions. Can we do UX copywriting? You bet your ass we can. It’s like any other copywriting, it just has a particular focus on helping users achieve goals. Very small fighting forces probably can’t justify specialised weaponry like UX professionals. But anyone can (and should) use a UX approach. Put people first. Ask them what they think. Figure out what actually works and how you can help people navigate your content and engage with what you do. All common sense tactics guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of civvies. Mission success.