What is ux design?
Chris: UX design to me is really just the ability to consider a product from a user’s perspective or—call it a person’s perspective. Really connecting their needs and goals with the business needs and goals in creating a product that fits at that intersection.
Jason: UX design is how a person experiences a company or an organization, and that can be through its products or services.
Nikki: Sometimes there’s confusion about the difference between UI which is User Interface design and UX which is User Experience design. Traditionally UI has really focused on what happens on a particular screen when you’re interacting with a website or with a mobile app or a kiosk, for example. We’re looking at how elements on the screen relate to one another, where buttons are placed, etc. User experience, though, is about taking a slightly broader lens on that design process. We don’t just look at what happens when you interact with a mobile app, but we might think about what happens before someone even picks up their phone to interact with that app and what happens when they set their phone down again afterwards. So it’s looking at the person: how they use it, the context of use, and then “what are their needs?” “What are they feeling what are their expectations when they come to this product or this tool?”
Why ux design matters
Jason: User experience is very important to companies, especially now, and even more so in the future. That’s because just having a technology-enabled product is not enough. It has to be a good experience: people have to get things done that they’re trying to accomplish, and they have to walk away [from it] thinking that it was a good experience that they want to tell their friends and family about.
Nikki: There are a lot of big challenges that face UX today. I think one of the big ones is figuring out what we do with some of the new platforms that are emerging: virtual reality is certainly one of them… for several years now, we’ve also had wearables emerging as another type of new platform. So thinking about “how do we move beyond just the computer screen” or just the phone to address some of the other types of products that are coming on to the scene.
UX designers are in demand
Chris: I think the demand for UX designers is not going to go away anytime soon. I think that great products are differentiated based on the experience and sometimes solely [on] the experience.
Nikki: I think there’s a huge future demand for UX designers. I think we’ve seen a trend in UX becoming more important—more critical to business—and that business[es] are really recognizing that and trying to bring UX in not only earlier in the development of products but having UX have sort of—have a seat at the table in boardroom conversations… kind of at that C-suite level.
Chris: There are a lot of companies hiring UX designers right now. It’s a very in-demand type of position, and you have companies that are startups you have companies that are enterprises… it’s really the whole gamut.
Nikki: We’re seeing companies hire UX designers in droves, and it doesn’t just apply to technology companies or maybe companies you would traditionally associate with UX.
Jason: It can be startups that are not even tech based, it can be established companies that aren’t necessarily thought of as being tech based…
Nikki: Big manufacturing corporations, consumer packaged goods companies… they’re bringing design in and making that a key focus area. So it doesn’t just have to be Googles or the Apples of the world. Really, as a UX designer you can be looking at a wide range of companies as prospective employers.
What kind of person becomes a UX designer?
Jason: For people that want to become a UX designer, I think background doesn’t really matter. I’ve worked with folks that have become UX designers that were previously teachers, architects, business managers; it really doesn’t matter. I think the connective tissue there is that they are curious and wanting to solve problems
Nikki: The beauty of UX, in my mind, is that people come to this field with a wide variety of backgrounds. There’s a lot of diversity in how people ultimately land on user experience as a career path.
Chris: I’ve seen success with people coming in from all different levels of experience in different industries. I think what it really takes though is someone who can really handle interactions with other people and help lead, help to facilitate workshops, and really just interact and be creative and explore ideas.
Jason: I first got into UX design kind of through the side door. Originally I was a graphic designer and brand strategist, but I always liked puzzles, and I always liked technology and when you combine all those things, UX design was a very attractive industry for me.
UX design is more than just computers
Chris: CodeCraft specifically has a really interesting approach and a very unique approach to teaching…
Jason: So there [are] many different tools in UX design and it doesn’t always have to be on the computer.
Chris: We use a lot of approaches to designing digital products, and some of those aren’t always digital approaches. We use our hands, we use paper, we use whiteboards, we try to get our ideas out into a way that we can work with them and have kind of a tangible way to massage them into ideas that work.
Jason: We make sure that our classroom is set up with a varying amount of classroom instruction time but we also save a lot of studio lab time, and that allows our students to collaborate not only with the other students and the clients but also with the instructors so giving them that face to face feedback time is really important for them to grow their skills set but also push their designs forward.