Curated by Coleman Yee
I facilitated this discussion at UXSG last night. There were a dozen or so participants, ranging from experienced UX practitioners (over 7 years) to those just starting to do UX, to those who know almost nothing about UX.
As the facilitator, I consciously avoided adding my own views into the mix, which was fine since there were more than enough diverse voices at the table to have a good discussion. We could have covered more areas and in more depth, but this was all we had time for.
Big thanks to everyone at the table for being there and contributing. I hope everyone enjoyed the discussion as much as I did.
My notes from the discussion, with tiny bits of post hoc additions.
DISCUSSION TOPIC: What knowledge/skills should you possess before you can call yourself a UX practitioner or UX expert?
- KEY KNOWLEDGE/SKILL AREAS:
- User research
– This is a fundamental area. Sorry, you’re not a UXer if you don’t know this.
– Helps you understand the context, the problem, and the users you’re designing for.
– Important to be able to have empathy.
– Interviewing skills is key – asking good questions that are non-leading, open-ended, and can elicit stories from your interviewees.
– Other useful skills include knowing how to recruit (and screen) interviewees, do user testing (see also #4 – Validation), construct surveys, benchmarking or competitor analysis, or any other method that can shed insight directly or indirectly about the users.
– Ultimately, it’s knowing and choosing the right method to use.
- Data analysis
– Lots of data may be generated during research (e.g. interview transcripts, etc). You have to be able to analyse the data and not drown and die in it.
– This includes being able to spot patterns in the data.
– These patterns help you to construct User Personas.
– User Personas represent the key types of users you’re designing for.
– After your research and analysis, you’ll have a much clearer idea of who your users are, and you can empathise with them. This is when you can start conceptualising designs for them.
– Key skill is being able to sketch. Literally using pen and paper to sketch concepts.
– Important to be familiar with the constraints of the medium you’re designing for (e.g. web or mobile app etc.).
– Useful to be able to produce higher-fidelity prototypes (but see last section on specific skills).
– Validation is basically testing if your concepts/prototypes work.
– Includes user testing – testing your prototype on users by letting them use it.
– You want to see if they have difficulties using the prototype, and if the goals are achieved.
- SOME SPECIFIC SKILL AREAS:
- Do you need visual design skills? e.g. using Photoshop to do pixel-perfect, pretty designs.
– No need (phew!).
– It’s not difficult to find/hire visual designers who are very good at this; much harder to find people with the other UX skills and mindset (asking the right questions, seeing things from the user’s perspective).
- Do you need to be able to use wireframing tools (like Axure, Omnigraffle, Balsamiq)?
– Useful, but not a dealbreaker.
– Most important is that you can sketch, UX skills and mindset.
– Wireframing tools are easy to learn anyway. Better to have someone with the right mindset but doesn’t know the WF tools than the other way round.
- Do you need to know coding?
– No need (heng ah!).
– Although it’s useful to know. (In fact, everyone, including accountants, should know coding.)
– More importantly, you should know the constraints of the medium you’re designing for (yes this was mentioned this earlier).
- Do you need to know Service Design (we had someone at the table who used to do Service Design)?
– Har? Simi si Service Design? (Not many at the table, including the experienced UXers, were familiar with Service Design.)
– Service Design designs experiences for customers, and typically includes physical experiences.
– Service Design overlaps a lot with UX, in fact the techniques used are often similar.