How do I get started with UX Design?

How do I get started with UX Design?

Between April 25th and 27th I had the joy of being at Media Week: a week in which the Systems and Digital Media course of the Federal University of Fortaleza brings and invites guests from all over Brazil to hold lectures, workshops and round tables for students. In this edition, there were over 370 subscribers.

I was invited to represent CESAR (the innovation institute where I work and where we do a lot of cool things for customers around the world) by giving a workshop on Adobe XD and a talk on how to get started in UX’s career. Both were really cool, but it’s about the last one I really wanted to talk about.

First: I wanted to say that I found it awesome to know a university course aimed at building diverse digital solutions where human-machine interaction is part of the basic curriculum. Most of the courses I know have this discipline as elective and I think everyone is losing with it (this my opinion is subject to another post, otherwise this is going to be huge and confusing).

Seeing the crowded room when I walked in to talk about starting a career as UX designer was a great surprise: competing with other activities in the games area that were being held at the same time, I thought most people would not be interested about user experience, this subject that is still (unfortunately) so relegated to the background in so many products and services out there.

I’ve been basing myself on my own career and on others of people I know to be able to prepare myself: people who did marketing, journalism, computer science, graphic design, psychology, and today are helping to make people’s interaction and experience with products and services best.

I started at the beginning, a definition of UX to make everyone aligned:

A multidisciplinary area of study that aims to help people solve their problems with a user-centered look, their mindset and their expectations. Taking into account the viability and practicality of the solutions.
We engage in a conversation about how UX is multidisciplinary and it is the duty of everyone who helps to put a product or service on the market (devs, testers, project managers…) to work for people to receive something spectacular.

I talked about how important it is to know English and how it should be a priority for anyone who wants to enter the world of user experience: internet content, books and documentation are usually in English or appear first in that language.

We talk about how much to read books (such as Norman’s spectacular Emotional Design and The design of everyday things; the classic Interaction Design by Sharp, Preece and Rogers; Fabrício Teixeira’s brand new Introdução e boas práticas de UX (in portuguese) and the wonderful Do not make me think, by Steve Krug), blogs and websites (such as uxdesign.cc, designkit.org and the Interaction design foundation) and listening to podcasts is important to anyone who is starting career and walking as UX designer.

We discussed the importance of being a good listener and a good observer and how much that contributes to the development of empathy, so essential to the career of an interaction designer or user experience designer.

There has been a talk about usability tests: when they happen, how do you get people to come and test your product. We talked that sometimes we go to the street and I gave the example of a project that we did here in the CESAR for the City of Recife and Ministry of Tourism in Brazil, Playtown, where to test with the statues of poets of Pernambuco declaiming their poetries only had effect in the street helped the staff understand the point.

Another important thing about the tests that yielded a good discussion: because to develop the ability to make that pokerface so that the person who is testing does not feel judged, after all, we are there to evaluate the interface and not the user.


Image from http://www.ebaumsworld.com/pictures/lorddreads-mid-week-gallery/81106641/

Following people who design around the world and knowing what they are doing has also entered our agenda. People like @morville, @lukew ‏, @blaurel and @CynthiaSavard.

We also talk about guidelines like Material Design or Apple Human Interface Guidelines: follow or not follow?

We discussed controversial points such as: Does the designer need to know how to programming? What tools we need to learn? How to build a portfolio if I’m not yet working? How to have a portfolio if I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (the old NDA)? How to participate in events in the design area and how important these events are for those who are early in their careers (and for those who are not so early in the process).

We ended our conversation by talking about seizing opportunities, such as CESAR Summer Job, where students from the 4th semester of various courses can solve real-life problems of national and multinational companies during vacations over a period of six weeks.

In the end we had that informal conversation with the people in the hallways, and was sure that the seed of the UX was planted. The bright in the eyes denounced that from now on, even if people chose not to pursue their careers as UX designers, they were already contaminated with the culture of user-centered design.

Priscila Alcântara – A simple UX designer around the world. A Dilbert fan. Batman series for XBOX gamer forever. Brazilian girl that don’t like carnival, samba nor too hot weather.

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