Every so often, I’m asked if I can recommend a book on learning User Experience, and I generally struggle to find an appropriate answer. It’s not that there aren’t any good books out there. It’s more that learning User Experience—as with most things—is something better done through practice, working on something that is as close to a real problem as possible. (Sure, no one wants to mess up on a big corporate project in the name of personal development. But frankly, if you’re the person trying to make things better, and you can persuade people to let you do it, all power to you.)
If I were able to go back to being my younger self, one of the pieces of advice I’d give myself—in addition to buy Apple stock and round glasses really don’t suit you—would be to read less and do more. While reading to learn a new skill is good, reading in the absence of simultaneous, practical learning activities to put what you’ve read into practice is pretty much wasted effort. At its worst, reading gives the illusion of progress because the reader vicariously shares the author’s successes. Read More
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, eyesight bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of UX lore—
While I nodded, merely stalling, suddenly there came a calling,
Like a baby loudly bawling, a sound I’d heard too much before.
“’Tis some client,” I muttered, “calling for some tiresome chore—
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each hopeless sketch found its place upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow I could not ignore—
For the rare and radiant design that the clients all adore—
Besought here for evermore. Read More
“These are my principles; if you don’t like them, I have others.”—Groucho Marx
For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of creating standards, guidelines, and patterns as a way of achieving design consistency within a large organization. While these do offer significant benefits, they also introduce a number of problems into the design process.
Some Problems with Design Standards
First, standards can provide a false sense of expertise in design. Calling something a standard, by its very nature, seems to imply that a great deal of research, thought, and experimentation has gone into its creation. It is likely that the proper stakeholders and experts have approved it. So designing something in a way that differs from a standard sets the designer against the people who set the standard and the weight of the work that they have done. No mean feat. Particularly for people who are new to an organization or junior designers, it can be easier to keep their head down and avoid challenging a safe option. In some organizations, particularly those that outsource a lot of design work, a reliance on standards can also lead to stakeholders using the standards to design solutions themselves, bypassing the UX design team. Read More