For those of you who don’t know the term ‘UX’ means User Expe­ri­ence, some­thing I feel I’ve long been aware of but nev­er had a name for until my sons got into the world of the web many years ago. The phrase makes per­fect sense once you think about it. I think about it most days in my own mod­est non-web way when I have a good or bad ‘user expe­ri­ence’ whether with an object, a machine, on the phone, on the web, via email, or live and inter­act­ing with a human of any age.

Since this blog large­ly focus­es on our respon­si­bil­i­ties to the next gen­er­a­tion and how we edu­cate them and our­selves, after a mis­er­able week work­ing in the child­care facil­i­ty I am cur­rent­ly com­pelled to work in, I start­ed brain­storm­ing about my ‘user expe­ri­ence’ – hor­ri­ble – and com­pared it to what I think many staff mem­bers and most of the chil­dren (but also their par­ents), must be experiencing.

Babies who scream, loud­ly, aren’t have a good ‘user expe­ri­ence’ whether with their moth­er or a staff member.

Two year olds who cry every day ‘for no appar­ent rea­son’ aren’t hav­ing a good ‘user experience’.

Three year olds who throw them­selves on the floor, pee or poop in their clothes on pur­pose to make their point or are will­ful­ly mis­be­haved day after day, obvi­ous­ly aren’t hav­ing a good ‘user experience’.

Four year olds who acci­den­tal­ly bang their noses on a friend’s shoul­der and then go off into a cor­ner to cry about it, being unable to turn to a famil­iar staff mem­ber for com­fort, aren’t hav­ing a good ‘user experience’.

A four year old whose lan­guage is severe­ly delayed isn’t hav­ing a good ‘user expe­ri­ence’ if no adult talks to him for the three hours after they’ve said “Good morning”! 

And these sit­u­a­tions all hap­pen in one place. There are oth­er chil­dren scream­ing, cry­ing and voic­ing their mis­er­able ‘user expe­ri­ence’. I can’t always dif­fer­en­ti­ate who I’m hear­ing from behind a closed door although I know instinc­tive­ly the dai­ly ‘user expe­ri­ence’ of each of the babies in our room, some are hav­ing very good expe­ri­ences, some very sad, some just awful.

Cou­ple these sit­u­a­tions with staff ‘user experience’:

Lift­ing a heavy tod­dler up to a stan­dard 36″ high counter top which also real­ly isn’t long enough to let the child stretch out and you to change their nap­py (dia­per) — who thought that one through?

No step stools for teacher to reach high stor­age cup­boards — basic ‘risk man­age­ment’ for any facility.

A wash­ing machine and dry­er that were set up so that the doors back against each oth­er when open and all wet laun­dry has to be passed over those two doors to get to the dryer!

How frus­trat­ing must it be to deal with the child who refus­es to coop­er­ate and throws her­self on the floor every day – ‘for no appar­ent reason’?

What car­er or teacher goes home in a sane mind when one or more babies or chil­dren have screamed at her most of the day even when she is one of the kind­est most child-focused peo­ple on the planet?

What hap­pens when staff mem­bers don’t have the sup­plies they need – some­times it’s as sim­ple as no gloves (!), paper tow­els, no rags, no clean­ing mate­ri­als, no tis­sues (in a day­care?!). The issue isn’t that we haven’t added to the owner/director’s shop­ping list – she just doesn’t under­stand how not hav­ing these tools ren­ders us inca­pac­i­tat­ed when attempt­ing to run the expen­sive pro­gramme she is sell­ing. #very­pooruser­ex­pe­ri­ence.

Last­ly, think about the par­ents. They occa­sion­al­ly get a newslet­ter – per­haps the sec­ond one has been writ­ten in 2011 and it’s Novem­ber. The lat­est newslet­ter came through on parent’s phones (and mine) in a very gar­bled, unread­able for­mat — what sort of ‘user expe­ri­ence’ was that? 

When you are pay­ing a vast sum for your child’s care and you have been sold/promised a spe­cif­ic programme/standards by the own­er, it is that owner’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to make sure your ‘user expe­ri­ence’ is top notch, as with any pur­chased prod­uct or service. 

There was obvi­ous­ly no UX plan in place when the school was opened. 

I unwit­ting­ly had a UX plan for my own chil­dren and those I cared for in my house. My plan has proven itself over and over as I watch my grown sons, at work and at play, and the pos­i­tive devel­op­men­tal tra­jec­to­ry of oth­er chil­dren I’ve influ­enced over the years.

My per­son­al UX has worked out well, for me for the most part and for my hus­band and my children. 

Think about the UX of your own babies and young chil­dren — you (and only you) can make it better.