While searching for my next topic, I kept seeing this question popping up on Linkedin and I decided to take a stab at it and introduce some concepts and mental images in order to convey what comes to mind when I am faced with the topic of, “How to break into the UX/UI world.”
The question itself is pretty funny to me, because it makes UX/UI seem like some kind of a secret club or a fraternity that you have to break into, meaning that the entrance is not free for all and you have to use the secret code or do your time before you can actually say you are in. Before diving in, I’d like to first take the time to switch the focus from some of the terminology.
[bctt tweet=”UX / UI is not a thing you break into, it is a practice that you must absorb and develop inside yourself.”]
First of all, everything that you see around you right now is a part of your user experience.
Some more personal than others. Sitting on this train going home is an experience. The train was created for people to ride in and it creates an experience. For example if I take a subway or a long distance train it would create a different experience for me. As I am typing this I am using the Mac version of Microsoft Word as opposing to Text Edit since it creates a different experience for me as a user.
Secondly, as a user I have a choice to create the experience I want.
Whether it is to use this or that software, to take a Long Island Rail Road or a subway train, to wear this jacket or that jacket. We make our choices based on the experience we want to get, therefore the concept of a User Experience is about asking yourself questions. Why do I do certain things and not others? Why do people go to this one particular website and spend thousands of dollars shopping while they wouldn’t do the same at other similar websites? Why people love this new app and not that one?
Lastly, every experience is valued at a certain price.
I have to pay more money to get home faster than if I was to take a subway train, which is a cheaper mode of a transportation. Now, there are reasons for my choice. I would have walked more from the subway station to my house. I wouldn’t have been able to write this article, since it’s not safe on the subway to have your laptop out and obviously the seats on the LIRR are nicer and have more room, but in a nutshell those were my choices. In order for me to be using a mac laptop, I had to pay more money than if I was to buy a Dell Laptop.
We always internally ask ourselves WHY? And the answer, which happens on a subconscious level, is linked with social value, personal value, ease of use and compatibility with my tasks. It is intertwined into a complex web of personal, social and psychological answers, but underneath it all stands our own User Experience.
When you, as a person and a center of your universe, make a choice, that choice is manifested so quickly that you don’t even think about it.
Meanwhile, if you want to become a UX/UI guru, you have to deeply study what drives people to make decisions and how you can use that information to create better and more profound experiences for them.
The easiest step you can take right now is to start observing yourself. Look at whatever is in front of you, be it an iPhone, iPad, website or app and ask yourself, “Why? Do I like it? Is it easy to use? Would I do something differently? How would I re-create that experience?” The answers are instantaneous. Take notes and move onto exploring other things. The more you ask yourself those questions, the more the quality of your experiences changes, and you go from being simply a user to becoming conscious of your own user experience.
The next step is to start observing other people, learn the tools of trade and to apply your critical thinking to solving some real world problems.
Thank You For Reading.
Dmitry W. Azarov