Why I’m writing UX 101: A Primer on User Experience Design

I wrote this article on my Kickstarter project for TechJournal, and thought visitors to my site might like it as well:

If you walk down the street of any city in the world and ask people what User Experience Design is, the majority of them would say, “I have no idea.” Yet when you ask them what mobile phone they use, the store they love to shop at, or the place they love to travel to… you’ll find they will most often name products, stores, and destinations that were the result of user experience design.

Apple. The Gap. Target. Disney. Procter and Gamble. Some of the biggest companies in the world are not in the product or service industry… they’re in the Experience business, applying User Experience Design process and principles to what they sell to their customers. And they are very successful because of it.

So, what is user experience design? User Experience, or “UX” Design is a discipline focused on understanding users needs, wants and desires and applying that understanding in product and service design. It uses research, conceptual design, and user testing to identify what works, to reject what doesn’t, and to help companies focus on producing usable and useful offerings to bring to market. Applying UX design processes can, and has, helped companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars, by making sure what they are producing services real needs, and not trying to solve “imaginary” problems.

As a user experience architect at a Fortune 500 company, I’ve worked hard to ensure my company’s offerings are designed with the user in mind, and because of my and my colleague’s efforts the many products we provide have been acclaimed by users and helped my company win contracts… and the hearts of customers.

User Experience Design is still a young profession, but as companies around the world has seen the benefits to applying user-centered design principles to their processes and products, demand for UX professionals has exploded. There are over 9000 job openings for UX professionals on LinkedIn as of the time I write this, and that’s during an economy still struggling to recover.

With such high demand, where are the UX design professionals in the future going to come from? There are formal courses of study out there, and lots of books on the topic… but not a lot of materials are aimed at the novice interested in the domain. I hope to help (a little bit) with that problem.

Last year, I wrote my first book on UX design, Experience Matters: Essays, tactics and lessons in User Experience Design, and have started writing a second one to be titled UX101: A Primer on User Experience Design. This book is targeted at those novices noted above, as a reference to teach… well, UX101. To help cover the research and production costs of the book I have started a Kickstarter for it, and you can find out more details about that here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1666720383/ux101-a-primer-on-user-experience-design. Please support this effort if you can.

I am hopeful, but also realistic… One book can’t detail everything that aspiring UX professionals need to learn how to work in the field. But one book can cover the basis, and get the reader “fired up” about the process and the discipline. And if even one person gets inspired by my book to become a UX designer, and they then go on to create a product that changes the world for the better… then I’ve done some good.

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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