To label myself as a guru, ninja or unicorn is pretty hard. Still, some of my friends who interested in user experience occasionally knock my door to ask me: I am confused from where I need to start. Could you suggest me anything handy?
Even most of them have a profession related to digital user experience such as UI, front-end or back-end, some of them barely have relation to digital world. In any case, I am glad when people ask my advice. Some people can consider that those kind of questions are insolent (because they born as professionals). “How dare you! You think you can become a/an … (fill the blank with a fancy job title). Just like that! You fool!” To be honest, I was also an insolent fool at the beginning; and “yes”, I had started to my story with a similar way, by myself: reading, searching, asking, scrambling… For this reason, I suggest the same thing to you: “read”. But again, the overpowering question still exists: “Ok, so from where I need to begin with?”
It depends to those:
- Are you curious about the subject and wondering if it is a good choice for you?
- Does life make you learn and use it in a hurry?
1) For curious ones
If you are considering UX as a profession, and asking yourself some questions like:
- Am I suitable to be a UX designer? (good question)
- Is being a UX designer suitable for me? (another good question)
- Do I really want to be a UX designer? (important!)
- What is UX anyway?
If you are at this level of curiously, I should say that you are lucky. There are lots of books and online sources available. If you are looking for a reading list, ask Google “best UX books” and you will find lots of reading lists with full of great books. However, the hardest part is that those lists have dozens of books, and each refers different level and purposes. Some are about the general philosophy of design and making life easier, some are for experts, teaching techniques and application methods.
As a beginner, you must learn the core of designing experiences. Anybody can draw grey boxes on a canvas, and most of them think “Hey! Look! I can draw wireframes, I’m a UX designer!”. Please, do not be one of them. First thing you must learn (and internalize) is that UX is about understanding people, their need and feelings, and then creating an effective communication to deal with all of those. It is not about designing fancy interfaces.
I have listed below some examples of in which you can capture UX’s core:
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug
- The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman
- Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
by Don Norman
I am not revealing a secret. You can find those books in almost each UX reading list. What I want to show is from where you need to start. It is because; first impression of this research will affect your decision to keep going. After you read a few of those books, and start to whisper yourself that “Ok, it makes sense. Now, I want to learn how to apply what I learnt.”, it is time to leap forward and learn “techniques” such as wireframing, prototyping, testing, etc. Internet is full of sources, but if you are lazy enough, you can start with UXPin’s e-books. Those will be quite helpful.
Do not forget, wireframes, prototypes, whatever, these are just tools.
2) For doomed ones
These are not lucky ones as I had been once upon a time. You just need some quick solutions. You have to trust your own experiences as a user and your gut feeling, and to learn from other people’s experiences.
One of the great sources for this is Smashing Magazine, in where professionals share briefly their experiences. This is not the only one, there are a lot of blogs about UX. The thing I want to warn you about is trying to focus on real life experiences shared by real people. I am not saying to skip others, if you have enough time, reading them all is the best. However, if your time scarce to read all and you are not experienced enough (in this case you are not) to use your judgement about theoretical assumptions, try to stay away from them. Always be careful about the content created by service or tool providers (or anyone who tries to sell something).
Another great source to acquire a quick vision is pattern libraries. They are very helpful with their search and filter options. These were my favorites, and I got used to visit them at the first stage of my career. I can tell “why not now?” later.
This is my first post about my profession, and I wanted to begin with helping people who are curious about UX. I hope it will be useful. But, I hide the best answer to “How do I get started in UX?” to the end: Find a scenius (What is scenius?), interact with people in this business, ask, share, discuss, challenge… Listen, but do not rely on the answers, examine their works, lives, attitudes, positions…
If you cannot find one, ask me 🙂 we can learn together.