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
The idea of a UX unicorn has always been something of a puzzle to me. User Experience is already such a broad field, encompassing digital design, graphic design, interaction design, user research, usability testing, prototyping, and other specialties. Saying that there is something unique or special about a person who is competent in some part of User Experience and also another discipline such as coding feels like a failure to acknowledge the unique breadth of User Experience. But, for the sake of this column, let’s roll with this definition:
A UX unicorn is someone who can deliver broadly on the UX skillset, plus something else that most would consider rare—though perhaps not mythical, as the term unicorn might imply! Read More