I was at General Assembly Los Angeles yesterday where they had us go through a user experience bootcamp. I’ve heard about this field before, and know that there’s great demand for this skill among creative and technology professionals, but I was curious to learn more about it through classroom training. I met a lot of like minded people who are tech savvy, smart, hardworking millenials, a few of whom I will be keeping in touch with. The instructors are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but also casual and fun; the new type of professional borne out of startup culture, sporting a “cool geek” vibe and delivering the digital curriculum as if it’s a peer-to-peer type of discussion.
We covered the basics of user experience in an intensive 7-hour day. Throughout the class, I realized I was already exposed to the topic professionally in my previous jobs, and academically at Northwestern and IIT.
If I were to describe user experience, I would boil it down to this: it’s the intersection of sociology, technology and design– that covers both strategy and execution. The problems that a user experience professional tries to solve run the gamut from sociological questions (What consumer need can I address? Who are my target consumers?); to marketing questions (What are their points of contact with my product or brand? How can my brand establish affinity with consumers?) to industrial design questions (Is the product design appealing that they will continue using the product? Is the product solving a need and making their lives easy?)
In my experience in various functions in market research, consumer insights, marketing, and product management, I realize that I am already a user experience design professional. I’ve never had a job title that says so, because my previous jobs have always been focused on one role at a time, but learning more about user experience design as a field inspires me to work through user experience strategy as a process, one that integrates perspectives of human understanding, digital world to creativity. It opened my mind to my own growth possibilities as a professional and allowed me to better understand what careers would look like in the future: those that melds business and creativity to deliver delightful products and services to consumers.