Guest lecture @ QANTM College

Recently I was asked to speak to a group of undergraduates at QANTM College in Sydney about UX design. I accepted and then quite honestly had a little bit of a panic. I proceeded to over-prepare a great deal of material and hoped that I would bring a little user-centred design knowledge into the world of a bunch of people who were just about to start out on the first part of their professional jobs and careers.

I remember guest lectures from my own time at university; both undergrad and postgrad. They fell into two groups; one was usually quite boring and the other would open my eyes to a point-of-view or knowledge that I had previously not considered. My aim was to fall into the latter and I believe that I managed to do this.

I told them all about myself; where I came from, my qualifications and some background on Boomworks. I used this time to talk about process and how important it is to the outcome for both the client and the user. Using Boomworks as a company to demonstrate so many aspects of the process of UX design made this part easy because the whole company is geared toward building for the user.

I then got into the proper UX stuff. For the first part I talked about the UX designers I know and how they came to be working in the industry. I think it’s important for anyone thinking about working in the area to know that you can come from all walks of life.  They have a few important things in common but background is no obstacle. The UX people I know and work with have been teachers, architects, engineers, developers, publishers, IT consultants, project managers, psychologists, archaeologists etc. What they have in common is the desire to:

  • Fix things
  • Design from a human standpoint
  • Keep learning
  • Try new things… and keep trying until you get something that works.

I then worked through a list of six things that I have found to be important when designing. Gerry Gaffney (2004) said things very succinctly: “Designers who don’t understand their users frequently develop products that are difficult to use and understand, do not meet real-world requirements, or provide irrelevant functionality.”

  1. Go forth and talk to your user
  2. Be the voice of the user
  3. Get to know your client and understand the business needs
  4. Design for good
  5. Get the basics right
  6. Choose your tools.

I then showed them a few diagrams and tools that I have found very useful.

Jesse James Garret – The Elements of User Experience - http://www.jjg.net/elements/pdf/elements.pdf

Gerry Gaffney – Contextual Enquiry - http://infodesign.com.au/wp-content/uploads/ContextualEnquiry.pdf

Stephen Anderson – The Fundamentals of Experience Design - http://www.poetpainter.com/thoughts/files/Fundamentals-of-Experience-Design-stephenpa.pdf

Career/Industry advice

This was something that I really wanted to know about entering the industry and is invaluable in ensuring that you continue to learn and to get to know other people who work in and around UX. These are the organisations that I belong to and attend events throughout the year. I have met and made some great friends and colleagues at these events and learnt a whole lot more.

I then finished with some basic advice about UX design that I try to adhere to. Keep practicing, it won’t happen automagically – there is effort involved in mastery.

I really enjoyed talking to these students and hope to be able to go back in the future and do this again. Being part of the community and sharing knowledge is something that I believe strongly in.

References:

Anderson S. 2009, The Fundamentals of Experience Design, viewed at < http://www.poetpainter.com/thoughts/files/Fundamentals-of-Experience-Design-stephenpa.pdf>

Garrett J.J. 2000, The Elements of User Experience, viewed at <http://www.jjg.net/elements/pdf/elements.pdf>

Gaffney G. 1999, What is a Contextual Enquiry? viewed at <http://infodesign.com.au/wp-content/uploads/ContextualEnquiry.pdf>

Gaffney G. 2004, Contextual Enquiry – A Primer, viewed at < http://www.sitepoint.com/contextual-enquiry-primer/>

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