Being a newcomer in UX
To understand the difficulty and challenge of this particular situation, let me remind you Jakob Nielsen’s advice to newcomers that I posted last week: “There is only one advice for newcomer that is to do it.”
And this is exactly what makes it so hard. Yes, there are books, videos, seminars and who knows what else, but it’s very difficult to find where to start. It’s not like becoming let`s say a proctologist when it’s safe to say that a good starting point is to sit in a university lecture and learn how a human body is built. This is understandable concerning the fact that we are talking about a fairly young professional.
So, I have collected some resource tips that can make your start a little bit easier or just give you a perspective what usability is about.
Surprisingly (or maybe it was a surprise only for me), it`s a governmental portal. And this is not the part which is so intriguing, but the fact that it provides great basic information about user experience. Trust me, it is really good. You can find a brief explanation of all basic topics which may not make you an expert, but clarify the UX jargon and gives you a solid understanding of the fundamentals.
Also, a Usability Guidelines Book is available on the site which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) to “identify innovative, research-based approaches that result in highly responsive and easy-to-use Web sites for the public”. Since it was made the public sector in mind, some topics are not relevant, but still it lists useful milestones to focus on when it comes to usability.
In order to create or recognize great user experience, you need to understand how users think, see, memorize, get motivated and behave in certain circumstances. And yes, that involves psychology (my favorite part). This book collects and explains psychological facts and practical tips that can affect users. It is also fun to read, structured in a very transparent way and written in an enjoyable style. I guarantee that you will keep re-reading it over and over again to remember all the fun facts.
The other ‘bible’ of the subject is this treasure. Also a splendid read beyond being informative. It builds the bridge between users and objects and gives you ideas how to optimize the communication between the two sides. It also emphasizes the responsibility of design, namely if an object seems to malfunction, it is not the fault of the users, but the design which should be intuitive enough to guide them.
And when I say that Don Norman is the co-founder of Nielsen Norman Group together with Jakob Nielsen, you know right away that you are in good hands and this book is more or less essential.
The two hot shots of UX got together and founded NN/g. The organization of Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman has a superb article section where you can read all about usability: latest findings, trips & tricks, advices and so on so forth. However, you need to have a basic knowledge of the subject to process the information published, so I recommend following their work a bit further down on the road.
But return for sure, because once you acquired the basics, you can even download free reports “thousands of actionable, illustrated user experience guidelines for creating and improving your web, mobile, and intranet sites”. I wouldn’t miss that.
A school? In the 21st century? I know, I know…I am really old fashioned in this matter. Nowadays, degrees and certificates are not as essential as used to be, and talent and experience can fill the void, but it’s just nice to have a paper saying that you are really good at something. And it would look spectacular on the wall, too.
I found this great article a while ago about the available courses and schools, comparing their services and prices. There are many different levels and budget, you can pick from. But what can catch your eyes is an online course provided by The Team W. Sounds mysterious, isn’t it? It is actually the consulting firm of Susan Weinschenk. If you like her book (#2), then it`s a not-to-miss.
Oh, and if you are already on the site linked here, I highly suggest subscribing to the newsletter of UserTesting. It’s not a first time I mention this company, and probably won’t be the last either. They provide an enormous amount of white papers, articles and e-books written by highly respected professional.
This is only a few of the numerous options you have when you want to be a usability guru. Just have fun with them!