My UX journey part 0
Fear is a basic human condition. Everyone is afraid, and likely we always have at least one on our mind, such as fear of heights, fear of insects, fear of change.
The tangible fear is understandable. If something is tangible, it is clear or certain enough to be easily seen and felt to judge. But what about the fear of intangibility, or specifically the fear of change?
Change is uncertain, unclear, and uncomfortable. People like certainty, comfort, regularity. Change takes them out of their comfort zone and put them in another risky and unknown situation. That’s why most of everyone tends to settle down, stay in their jobs although they hate theirs so much, and engineer excuses not to trade their certainty for a future which could turn out worse.
Making a career change is a big move that is so fear-inducing and intimidating and absolutely not a walk in the park. For starters, it requires tons of effort, time and energy; demanding you to re-define your identity in the professional world, where your job title can impact what you aimed for your career trajectory, your reputation or even your social status. Just thinking about that could make you feel paralyzed and overwhelmed with self-doubt.
Being an Asian, I was raised to see only one path forward. I must get the best grade. I need to get into a university right after high school, and a job after that. I have to choose the most trendy job that can earn a massive salary, build a house, get married, and settle down with children. I was expected to go through those steps before the age of 30. But I chose to sidestep and follow my dream. It was scary and it still is, but in my guts, I knew that if I didn’t make this move, I’d regret for the rest of my life.
What gets me into User Experience design
With my two bachelor degrees in Computer Science and International Business, I seem destined for a career in technology development or business field. But I realized what I was doing was not aligning with where I envisioned myself and my works in the future. I was looking for an approach that can connect my knowledge in both fields, fill in the gap between them, and make solutions that get the best of both worlds.
By then, I was starting to question some small things and subtle changes that exist in our daily life, like:
- What is the different usability between a doorknob and a door handle? I mean they are both used to open doors, but why are there two designs for the same function?
- How can some people get used to a certain technology quickly but others have trouble catching up with, for instance, the young people vs the not-that-old people?
- Why some companies’ products/services are much better than the others, that their competitors offer the same features but still fail to compete?
- And so on…
Those little queries piqued my brain for a long time until the day I came across the term User Experience design. I did a ton of research about UX and realized that it is the crossroad among philosophy, technology, business, psychology and empathy to create a whole full package user-centered interactivity, which is exactly what I was searching. Also, I could step into the area with my existing business and tech skills and pick up new ones at my own pace.
What tickles my pickle
Average people frequently get confused between User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design. Most connects design only with visual aspects, not interactions, not services, or other abstract things. Plus, they usually don’t give a shit about it. That’s fair.
Speaking of which, what you sees is onlythe tip of the iceberg, which is UI, while the submerged part that you might not even think about is UX. Therefore, UX and UI are different, but similar and connected at the same time, they work together hand-in-hand for the same goal to achieve good user experience. In fact, one of the most important elements for a good business return is UX. For your consideration, most big name businesses have survived the economy crashes and been succeeding till this day because they have incorporated UX design deeply into their operation, such as Amazon. You can read on the included link or find more information about that on the internet.
Anyway, I don’t want to only show you — curious readers, the importance of design and such, but rather a journal of me traveling on the world of UX design: what I learn and deduct with my past knowledge, how I will apply to my personal projects on top of the mistakes that I would (definitely) make and learn from. As I understand fully well myself that it is very easy to sink in the sea of information, and there are more than enough websites offering UX classes which our high-and-mighty all-knowing Google God doesn’t point out a particularly suitable one for you to confidently start your own steps into designing UX. Additionally, there might be some UI discussions thrown in along the way. Since UX is the skeleton of any design and UI is its shell; so before starting working on visual component, there has to be something to lean on anyway.
I hope that my journey will be of help to those who are interested in and/or enthusiastic about the UX world. Please stay tuned and grow with me as I try to figure out my right path in the upcoming series.
By Nam Nhu – March 4, 2019