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What does it take to enter the User Experience field?

Posted: September 21st, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Resources | 1 Comment »

At last night’s UX ChitChat event, one of the questions we discussed was how to support people interested in breaking into the field as a practitioner. We concluded with the observation that it might seem like a daunting challenge! UX covers a broad range of activities across design, business, and technology — so where to start? How to become expert in those topics? Is that even reasonable?

The short answer: no, it’s not reasonable. UX practitioners are “T-shaped”, meaning they are conversant in a breadth of activities, but go deep and become expert at only a few. In this article from Fast Company, Tim Brown of Ideo describes the result:

“They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That’s what you’re after at this point — patterns that yield ideas.”

Back in 2004, Peter Boersma wrote a blog entry worth checking out, in which he explores the T-shaped model in depth from the perspective of information architecture and user experience (complete with pictures, even!).

Last night, we also shared some thoughts on the qualities and characteristics of UX practitioners. In the course of conversation, we touched upon these two resources:

Be sure to check out Qixing Zeng’s blog post from this morning, in which she shares her thoughts as a result of last night’s discussion. Her post includes links to some other resources around the question of what does it take to be a great UX designer?

December 2007: Roger Martin on "Design Thinking: The Next Competitive Advantage"

Posted: September 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Events | 2 Comments »

December 20, 20075:00 to 6:30 pmAccelerator Centre295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo[Map]Everyone is invited to this free event. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Wanda Eby at Communitech so we can gauge attendance and plan for an appropriate room at the Accelerator Centre. We’re thrilled to announce that Roger Martin will pay us a visit on December 20. Roger is Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a renowned speaker on the application of “design thinking” to business strategy. For a taste of his ideas and contributions to the field, dig out your back issues of Harvard Business Review, download this PDF of Roger’s article in Fast Company, or browse the results when you search for him on BusinessWeek.

Design Thinking: The Next Competitive Advantage

Two fundamental kinds of thinking co-exist and often collide in business organizations: analytical thinking and design thinking. Both have their places, but as organizations grow, analytical thinking — which focuses on exploitation and refinement of the current state of knowledge — often crowds out design thinking, which pushes knowledge forward and creates new possibilities. To benefit from design thinking, a business needs to understand how analytical thinking and design thinking differ, why and how they come into conflict, and how to create an environment which encourages design thinking to flourish.

May 2008: User Experience Design at Microsoft (rescheduled from Nov/07 and Feb/08 – whew!)

Posted: September 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Events | 2 Comments »

November 22, 2007
February 21, 2008
Delayed until May 2008 as we’re likely co-hosting an event with Microsoft

5:00 to 6:30 pm
Accelerator Centre
295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo

On November 22 February 21 Whew, okay, sometime in May we welcome Qixing Zeng from Microsoft Canada. Qixing is a User Experience Evangelist with Microsoft, so she’s well-placed to give us the dirt on how Microsoft is thinking about UX these days — and how that might affect the work we do as well. We’ll nail down the exact topic of Qixing’s talk as the date approaches, but in the meantime here’s a general introduction from her.

User Experience Design at Microsoft

How is Microsoft changing its culture from engineering-driven to Experience First? What is the design model at Microsoft? Microsoft software now spans from standard websites to rich interactive applications to desktop applications, and we interact with it on our TVs, phones, table tops, game consoles, and computers. How does Microsoft strive to create a seamless user experience across all these platforms — while enabling designers and developers to work more productively together? In my talk, I’ll share some insights and examples to answer these questions from my perspective as a UX evangelist within Microsoft. I’ll illustrate these ideas through real world design examples created on the Microsoft Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation platform.

If there’s a specific Microsoft UX topic you’d like to hear about, please feel free to contact me through my blog. I look forward to meeting you all in November!

In the meantime, here are some useful links:

(October 2007) Designing the User Experience: Unplugged

Posted: September 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Events | 1 Comment »

October 18, 2007
5:00 to 6:30 pm
Accelerator Centre
Meeting room #2
295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo

Event description

Designing the user experience for software requires understanding user needs and behaviors. However, only so much can be learned by asking direct questions of people. Designers can employ a variety of techniques and activities to quickly uncover user needs and influence their understanding of the functionality required — and of potential design solutions. Come participate in an informal, “unplugged” discussion in which we’ll collectively formulate a best-of-breed process for designing user experiences.

About the speaker

Sandra Loop brings experience as a UX designer for the Sybase iAnywhere Professional Services group. Sandra will facilitate the discussion using a real-world mobile application scenario.