This is a question that every UX professional faces at some point: is it better to be a UX generalist—for example, practicing both user research and UX design—or is it better to specialize—perhaps in a specific domain? Companies often question whether a team of UX generalists or a mix of specialists is best.
I might be the ideal person to answer this question. Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the unusual experience of starting out as a UX design generalist, becoming a user research specialist, and again becoming a UX design generalist. In this column, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of generalization and specialization for UX professionals and the companies that hire them. Read More
Human beings are drawn to stories, which help us make sense of our world by letting us share others’ experiences as though they were our own. We feel characters’ struggles as they navigate difficult challenges and rejoice with them when they finally achieve their goals or share their sorrows if they do not. Stories help us learn to feel empathy—a critical trait for any UX professional.
Most importantly, stories are memorable. According to Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, using a story to convey information is up to “22 times more memorable than facts alone.”
Telling a story can help influence the opinions of others in ways that few other modes of communication can. The value of storytelling extends to how we present ourselves and our abilities professionally. Having participated in dozens of on-site portfolio reviews over the years—sitting on both sides of the review table—I’ve found that the most effective UX-portfolio presentations have one thing in common: the candidate told a story. Read More
Lately, I’ve been having some conversations with people who want to enter the field of User Experience. These people range from professionals who work in adjacent roles or domains to college students who are studying User Experience and are hoping to land their first job. This is a wonderful signifier that people are seeing the value of the UX professions and want to be part of them.
However, as many people working in UX related roles can attest, it is not easy to get a job in User Experience. There are many barriers to entry. You must take the time to craft a compelling portfolio, which is no trivial matter. You need to demonstrate your ability to think critically about users’ needs, which can be difficult to quantify and measure. If you do not have a formal education relating to User Experience, you must somehow show potential employers that you are better suited for a job than the many experienced UX professionals or highly educated people who are vying for the job. Read More