Where to start in UX?

So, I am obviously a huge advocate of user experience. Like anything, if you don’t already know the scope of something you’re new to, it can feel a little overwhelming. Rest assured, there are many routes you can take in learning UX – there’s not necessarily one right way.

The beacon of hope

This is honestly just a quick post to capture a few resources that I recently shared with one of my great designer colleagues. He feels a natural inclination toward user experience thinking, which is awesome.

Like him, I was once in need that simple push, a reassurance, toward what these natural abilities are – that others could see and understand what I was talking about even when I didn’t know the right nomenclature to use. Sometimes, that’s all we need in order for that giant learning bubble to shrink down to something consumable and less overwhelming.

So, I shared with him some things I found with a quick Google search. There are tons of awesome resources out there. Google image search has worked wonders for finding UX deliverables. Sometimes it helps to see the format others have used to capture their thoughts. Don’t get too hung up on how the deliverables look though aesthetically. In the end, it’s about what’s being communicated and less about perfectly designed documentation.

In my own experience, UX has been about bridging a gap between designers, developers, end users, and business stakeholders. That looks different from organization to organization. The value you can bring to the table as a UX practicioner is the user-centered experience resulting from thoughtful design that balances the needs of all the players. When that translates to greater ROI, you’ve hit the sweet spot.

Learning about UX

HCI – I really really want a certification some day.

Human Computer Interaction course on Coursera (free learning, check it out). I started it, but didn’t treat it like a real course on top of my day job, so never finished. I have all the videos downloaded though. What I saw was really good, and definitely affirmed my natural abilities in UX.

Nielsen-Norman Group’s HCI day workshop. This looks promising; another on my UX bucket list.

Design Pattern libraries

If you don’t already, start thinking in terms of views and design patterns. Design patterns are visual design, but it’s really about satisfying a need. Design pattern libraries or collections typically group these by task or feature. This starts helping you see parts of design as tasks, features, utilities, and controls. Ultimately, this can help your designs become more purposeful. Many of these actually have case studies along with conversion results, which is awesome.

UI Patterns

A Flickr user’s design pattern collection

That’s all I have for now. If you’re new to UX, I hope I’ve settled your possible anxiety about the right and wrong way to learn UX (I get asked all the time). Relax. Enjoy the discovery!

If you have natural tendencies toward user flows, design patterns, views, and knowing how to balance the needs of key players, we could always use more talent in the UX industry. I recommend doing an Indeed job search on UX or User Experience and just see what skills companies are willing to pay for. You might be surprised at how much you already can apply. Use your awareness of skill gaps as a career compass. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way – I’ve seen it happen 🙂

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