The belated start of my journey to get a deeper understanding of UX design.
Having been a designer for my entire career it’s maybe a little strange that I’ve never had any first hand experience in UX (I’m talking about the real process of UX here, not just throwing together a few wireframes). It’s something that I’m currently looking to address and thought it was worth noting down my experiences as I look to improve my knowledge in case anyone else out there is in a similar position.
This will likely be the first post in a sequence all centred around learning UX. As I continue my journey I’ll document what I learn, where from and how I’m applying it.
Educating Myself on UX
The logical first port of call has been to read as much information as I can on the subject. I started with blog posts and articles on sites such as UX Pin, Boagworld and Smashing Magazine. There’s no shortage of websites that post UX content so it hasn’t been difficult to find reading material. In terms of the best posts I’ve found that explain UX as a whole for newcomers, this article An Introduction To User Experience Design by Ben Ralph is definitely worth a read.
The main issue with reading articles online is that they’re often isolated examples that go deep on a very specific subject. By their very nature they’re not part of a wider structure. It’s useful information in it’s own right but it’s not really helping me get a holistic understanding of the discipline of UX. There’s probably a series of posts on a site somewhere that does a good job, I just haven’t found them yet.
To get a more structured knowledge I’ve turned to books. In the past I’ve read Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy (both by Steve Kruger) and I’ll probably give them a re-read at some point. Currently I’m reading Lean UX and after that I’d like to read Joe Natoli’s Think First. I’ve watched a few of Joe’s videos and they’ve struck a chord with me, he has a great way of talking about UX. The books are definitely helping but there is much to learn.
As I drive to work daily I try and listen to podcasts to cram as much learning as I can into my day. Boagworld and Making UX Work are 2 of my most frequent listens, I enjoy them both but they’re very similar to article based content – there’s not necessarily a structure beyond a single episode that guides you through a learning process. That’s understandable though, that’s not actually what they’re trying to do.
Online UX Resources
There’s a great 7 day UX email course that I signed up to over at Career Foundry. This was a useful introduction into the basic principles of UX and I’d recommend anyone interested subscribing to it (it’s free). Each day you get one email that focuses on a single part of the UX process. It’s well structured and is presented in an easily digestible format. There are very few emails that I actually look forward to receiving, this is one though.
Beyond books, podcasts, articles and email courses I’ve also signed up with the Interaction Design Foundation which offers a range of UX and UX related courses. The courses can be taken at your own pace and are incredibly comprehensive. It’s cost me around £100 for the year. The courses aren’t always open – I think they open every few weeks and have a limited number of spaces – presumably as you are marked manually on some of the exercises. So far I’ve enrolled in User Experience: The Beginners Guide, Become a UX Designer from Scratch, UI Patterns for Successful Software and Interaction Design for Usability. They should keep me plenty busy enough for now.
Whilst I feel there’s a lot to learn, I believe if I continue as I am my knowledge should increase fairly rapidly – obviously it’s something that you can never really know in totality but that’s not the goal here.
After acquiring this knowledge I am wanting to put it into practice on some live projects. I have a couple of websites that I’d like to work on and apply what I know but I’ll document those as and when I begin work.
If you have any recommendations for me on my UX journey then I’d be happy to hear them. You can get me in the comments or on Twitter.