[Guest Post] Who Participates in UX?
Editor's note: This is part of series about in User Experience (UX) which is essential element of product introduction to its user. This time, the author is discussing about who need to participate in the process of UX and what level are they required.
A UX designer is basically a generalist. The most important skill that he/she must have is communication skill. A UX designer is needed for communicating the needs of users, the wants of stakeholders, and the limitations of developers, among each other. The most important trait that he/she must have is the ability to empathize. A UX designer should be able to describe the big picture of the product in the languages of users, stakeholders, and developers.
In my previous post, I mentioned the different fields that people can concentrate on, which at the end sum up the whole UX field. You can be an Interaction Designer, a Usability Analyst, a Communication/Marketing specialist, or Technology specialist. Not to mention that the Technology specialty consists of several skills depending on the product. In the case of a website product, they are Graphics / User Interface (UI) Designer, Software Developer, etc.
You may want to stay in your current job or you may want to learn UX-related skills and call yourself a UX Designer. However, I personally don’t see the necessity of doing so unless you would like to be a generalist. You can learn extra skills, so with your current specialty you can participate in building the UX of a product that you’re working on.
As a Software Developer, you can learn aspects of Interaction Design (IxD) so that you can improve your HCI skills. For example, you can decide that filling a textfield next to a radio button would make the radio button automatically selected instead of the user having to click it explicitly before typing in the text. This requires extra programming efforts, but after all we want to make computers more friendly to people.
As a Graphics/UI Designer, you can learn aspects of Usability so that you can evaluate your visual items based on usability and appropriateness. For example, you would no longer think of “cute is better”, or “great graphics are attractive to users.” This requires both designer’s and end-user’s evaluations, where you as the designer can evaluate the design based on existing guidelines and/or you involve end-users to evaluate the design based on their understanding/opinions.
As a System Analyst, you can include aspects of User-Centered Design (UCD) in your SDLC workflow. Involve users from the earliest stage and conduct usability tests with each stage of prototype. You can work together with Programmer and UI Designer in the user-centered development of the product.
As a tech startup owner, you may educate yourself about UX. You can be both CEO and UX director of your product. Of course as the company grows bigger, hiring a UX designer as a UX manager of your product is a good option besides contacting a UX consultancy firm.
To learn extra skills, you can either read from the abundant sources on the Web or you can take extra education specializing in UX/UCD domains. Let me recommend several sources on the Web to start from:
- http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2010/10/05/what-is-user-experience-design-overview-tools-and-resources/ (a good overview and tools related to UX)
- http://uxmag.com/ (fresh information about UX and its related fields)
- http://uxmatters.com (practical insights and inspirations browsable by topics)
Qonita Shahab, a researcher in UX who used to work in IT. Her interest in music and photography helps her in designing interactive system prototypes. Since she started research in the field of persuasive technology, Qonita studied more about social psychology and the communal use of technology. Follow her on Twitter @uxqonita.
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