I’m going to write about my journey becoming a user experience designer…
A new turning point in my professional life has given me the necessary nudge to start blogging again. I’ve been in and out of it for the past few years, but as I try to generate more reflection time for myself, I believe I can put my thoughts down in writing.
I’ve been a programmer for the past 12 years, having started programming at the age of 12, after randomly picking up a book while visiting some family friends. It’s been a journey every since, and I love it.
However, I believe myself to be a T-shaped individual, so naturally I want to venture into new spaces where I’m not as proficient, in order to expand my field of knowledge. Over the past 3 years, I’ve been accumulating knowledge about people, soft skills, running a business, design, programming, you name it.
If I am to focus on something new that surely makes me tick, that would be User Experience Design. UX has its roots in industrial design, which is not as new a field, but multiple disciplines have come together to form UX. I am a convinced generalist and I believe the end-user experience is the ultimate purpose of what we’re all doing, online and offline.
I can say it’s a pretty new discipline given the perplexed look on people’s faces when I mention UX. Close friends have become accustomed to the idea of my going through this and learning the ins and outs of the discipline, but most people haven’t even heard of it. Programming, as a counter-example… everyone knows what it means and pretty much what it takes.
Getting back to UX: UX for me is the all-encompassing umbrella that hovers above many different things and brings them together. Let me name some of the various disciplines that go under it.
Here’s a diagram trying to display the intricacies:
It’s mindbogglingly complex and intricate, consisting of various fields of study that are disciplines within themselves. I am still exploring all of them and probably over time I will settle on a subset that gets me excited.
Obviously I’m a web guy, an online professional, so I won’t focus as much on Industrial Design or Electrical Engineering. I will however focus on the following:
- Programming: yes, as weird as it sounds, programming for em is an important part of UX. Since Design is not how it looks, but how it works, Programming is an integral part of our daily lives, although hidden from sight.
- Information Architecture: we’re informavores, so given the every-increasing amount information one has to consume together with lowering attention spans, Information Architecture is one of the cornerstones of UX.
- Visual Design and/or Interface Design: people want to use products that are visually appealing and aesthetic. They no longer have patience for products that are not polished or finished.
- Usability Engineering: so there are two main approaches to user experience design: the first is lowering barriers for task completion (usability), whereas the second is increasing motivation and generating emotion (psychology)
- Psychology: as I’ve outlined above, Psychology and the understanding of human factors plays an integral part in building something that works and is being used.
I don’t want to write an encyclopedic article about UX, but rather to scratch the surface in what there is to follow and to paint a picture regarding my future intentions.
In conclusion, I am working on broadening my skills towards a holistic approach to architecting and engineering online experiences.
I strongly believe that given the passage of time, these disciplines are going to be more and more sought-after while our physical and virtual worlds become every more complex.