Transitioning to a UX Career

Explore UX Panelists

These are my insta-notes on last night’s event. Thank you Rock Creek Marketing for hosting the event. ETA: a recap from Michelle Chin is here.

Four panelists discussed various aspects of a UX career, where they came from, and where UXers can go.

What do UXers do? What is the point? What is the value to the client?
– We are industrial designers for an audience
– What are your audience members are looking for and how are they looking for it. Identifying audience really important.
– first research then wireframing
– Important to do research before designing apps. Identify who are the app users going to be. E.g. If your audience is over 65/retirees, they wouldn’t be using a mobile app.
– Maximizing user acceptance rate. What are the measures you will use for that.

Educating clients on what UX is and the processes
– UX is new to clients. They ask about choices very early in the process
– Invite clients into the usability process, let them watch the videos. Connect clients visually to use cases, how to solve problems.
– e.g. discussion of open vs close sort with client. Inform client about choices in testing. – Internal vs external users.

Complementary skills
– Many UXers started in graphic design or from development
– persuasive design
– understand branding
– speaking the language
– developers, understanding clients terms
– interrelated skills needed: branding, marketing understanding testing, understanding client goals

Rare to have a team for UX, only one person is norm
– create a virtual team, with people you can call on
– lead, don’t get bogged down
– perfect team would be individual from every specialty
– UX is interdisciplinary.

How to prove UX adds value
– UXers do research,information architecture, wireframes, testing
– who is going to understand what user wants
–“We already have site nav”
– Evangelize, be proactive
– Ask clients to let UXers prove their assumptions
– show return on investment
How to speak to clients is key.

What UX books are on your shelf?
“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug
“Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content” by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Jakob Neilson is still king. Read his Alertbox on the Web
“Designing for Emotion” by Aarron Walter and other books on the topic from AListApart
“A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making” by Russ Unger

What are the valued skills in UX?
– have an opinion
– technical knowhow can be a huge benefit
– ability to give timely, related advice
– people who will stop and look at things for a minute
– people with skills in different disciplines
– people with willingness to make mistakes, to fail better and early

Tools and portfolio?
– Learn a wireframing tool and something that lets you diagram. There’s a Firefox plugin for prototyping
– don’t just talk, have something that shows you can do the stuff, even if it’s just photographs of a whiteboard.
– finished website isn’t the best as that doesn’t show process
– Understanding the research component. What are people doing with data
– invent something


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