Doing UX research in a university is very different to doing UX research in a business setting. If you're an academic making the leap, what are the main differences you need to keep in mind?
BCS launched their Foundation Certificate in User Experience 3 years ago. We thought this was an opportune time to review its effectiveness. We contacted candidates who had taken (and passed) the certificate through Userfocus and asked, "What impact has attaining the BCS Foundation Certificate in UX had on your job?" Ten key themes emerged.
Writing a case study is the way a UX researcher demonstrates their value. Case studies aren't just for UX portfolios or for consulting proposals: they provide a narrative to describe your work to friends and colleagues. The best case studies are simple stories that can be re-told in your absence and the POWER framework provides the scaffolding to compose your case study.
How to spend your first month in a UX research role (and stay friends with your new work colleagues)
When you start a new job as a user researcher, you need to both charm your work colleagues (so they take action on your future research findings) and challenge them (so they become more user centred). How can you best achieve this in your first 4 weeks in a new job?
A Masters in UX costs over £10k and may not make you more employable or attract a higher salary compared with spending the same time gaining practical experience in UX. Before you decide on taking that Masters degree, consider what you could achieve for 10% of the investment by creating an alternative, self-paced, personalised syllabus.
A UX practitioner demonstrates 8 core competencies: User needs research; Usability evaluation; Information architecture; Interaction design; Visual design; Technical writing; User interface prototyping; and User experience leadership. By assessing each team member's 'signature' in these eight areas, managers can build a fully rounded user experience team. This approach also helps identify the roles for which each team member is most suited alongside areas for individual development.
In this article, Philip Hodgson, David Travis and Todd Zazelenchuk share their shortlists of non-UX books for those working in UX… an intentional twist on the usual lists that recommend books about user research and user experience design. So don’t be surprised to find that The Design of Everyday Things, among other classics, is not in this list. No disrespect. No oversight. Simply a different list for you to consider.
1 November, 2016 - User Experience is a multi-disciplinary specialty and that means UX practitioners must master several methods, techniques and skills. Recently — partly as a thought exercise, and partly in an attempt to tap into what might be the essence of user research and design — I wondered if just one skill or ability deserved to stand out from the rest. Here’s how five UX specialists answered that question.
5 September, 2016 - Hands-on practice, although important, does not necessarily lead to expertise. The best user researchers analyse their work, deliberately and consciously. By reflecting on a user research activity, they are able to increase the learning from a situation, identify their personal and professional strengths and find areas for improvement and training.
5 May, 2015 - I'll admit it: when I used to hear people advocate professional certification in user experience, I was dismissive. Since we can't even agree on what "UX" is, how can we certify it? I wondered. I saw certification as a way of creating a closed shop to exclude dissenting voices. This is the story of why I changed my mind.
Clients and students I work with often ask me to recommend a good book on user experience. This is actually a lot harder than you might think. Someone who’s new to the field won’t gain much from a book aimed at experts, and someone looking to improve their sketching skills won’t learn much from a book about usability testing. So here is my list of recommended books along with the people I think they are best suited for.
Design teams often experience a common set of growing pains. They design for themselves; don't know how to choose between design alternatives; accept poor quality design research; prioritise what users say over what users do; and focus on usability and not on the user experience. Adding an experimental psychologist to your team can help fix these problems
If you work in user experience, the portfolio has replaced your CV. This is fine if you are a visual designer but for people who specialise in user experience research, the portfolio poses a particular challenge. Here are some suggestions on ways to create a winning user experience research portfolio.
What's the difference between information architecture, interaction design, visual design and usability engineering? I argue that each of these areas is critical in a design project but that they need to be co-ordinated by a User Experience Designer to ensure the end user's experience is a satisfying one.
Heard these before? ‘Market research uses hundreds of people. How come you can get answers with just 5?’ ‘Our product is aimed at everyone, so we can use ourselves as users.’ ‘Users don‘t know what they want’ ‘Apple doesn‘t do user research so why should we?’ ‘Our agency does all of this for us.’ Here's how to successfully counter each of these objections.
The parallels between good research and good detective work are striking. In this article we take a close look at what user experience researchers can learn from the investigative methods used by detectives. And, in the spirit of all the best detective stories, we draw an important conclusion: if you want to become a better researcher you should learn to think like a detective.
Trying to recruit a single individual with all of the skills needed to create great user experiences is like trying to hire a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci. A better strategy is to build a multidisciplinary team with people specialised in the following areas: Management, Research, Information Architecture, Information Design, Visual Design, Technical Writing and Prototyping.
We're increasingly asked by organisations for advice on building a user experience competency. Our advice is to start at the top and get the right person for that first critical leadership role. User experience leaders demonstrate 3 core competencies: they understand research; they follow user experience methods and standards; and they are great communicators.
Do you spend so much time firefighting that you forget to think about your career? January is as good a time as any to think about improving your career prospects so here are some tips to help you get more from your job — or even get a better job. Presented as 12 bite-sized, monthly activities, do just one a month and watch your career take off this year.
When trying to communicate the process of user centred design to senior managers it helps to convey the idea as concisely as possible. This infographic conveys the various steps and phases of user centred design on a single page.
Before you can implement a usability initiative in your organisation, you'll need to convince your manager it's worthwhile. The obvious approach is to use a cost-benefit argument, but experience shows that this approach often fails because many managers find the data unconvincing. An alternative approach is to tailor your argument based on your manager's MBTI personality type. This approach generates many different ideas for selling usability within your organisation and is much more persuasive.
Trying to embed usability in an organisation needs more than persuasive, logical arguments. You also need to appeal to managers' emotions and political ambitions. This article describes five successful strategies that we've seen work in companies large and small.
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User Experience Articles
Our most recent articles
- Nov 4: Common traps in user needs research and how to avoid them
- Oct 7: Transitioning from academic research to UX research
- Sep 2: The minimalist field researcher: What's in my bag?
- Aug 5: The future of UX research is automated, and that's a problem
- Jul 1: Talking to computers (part 2): VUI as an error recovery system