Best of 2014: No 4: Top resources for learning UX Design


Best of 2014: No 4: Top resources for learning UX Design

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This week we are showing you the 10 most popular posts of 2014 on State of Digital. The top 10 is based on a combination of reading numbers, shares and comments.

This is number 4, by Barry Adams, about learning about UX.
Originally posted: March 31, 2014, 12:00

Technology does not exist for its own sake. Technology is there to be used, to solve problems and improve lives. Whenever we as technologists design and build something, be it a website or an app or a back-end management system, we build it for other people to use. If a piece of technology cannot be used, it serves no purpose.

The implications of this simple fact are far-reaching, and unfortunately widely underestimated. User Experience (UX) design, the discipline that deals with making technology easy and pleasant to use, is often seen as something to be added on at the latter stages of a project. And this is a mistake, because great UX is not a thin layer of design to be applied as a finishing gloss – great UX should be embedded within the very foundation of every piece of technology.

In digital marketing, UX design is claiming an ever-greater role as more and more stakeholders realise that the websites we craft and the online experiences we ask our customers to partake in need to result in positive emotional experiences. UX design is, at its core, human psychology applied to technology.

Learning UX

So we as digital marketers owe it to ourselves, our clients, and our clients’ customers, to learn the basics of UX design and apply these principles to everything we do as professionals. By developing a good understanding of UX you will find yourself become a better marketer and a more enlightened practitioner. The inevitable downside is that you will develop an intolerance for bad user experiences, as you will come to recognise them more readily.

So how do you start learning UX? Like with most digital disciplines, there’s no one fixed way to learn about it. Every UX professional has arrived at their expertise in a different way, so it’ll be an individual road of discovery for you. There are however a number of great resources that can get you started. Here are my personal recommendations for embarking on the road to UX design enlightenment:

What Is User Experience?

First things first – you need to learn what User Experience Design actually is. This article on Usability Geek explains the basic concept of UX and the principles that form its foundation. After reading this you will have a clearer understanding of what UX actually means, the elements that it contains, and what role it plays in technology.

User Experience Areas - Usability Geek

Principles of User Interface Design

User Interface (UI) design is just one aspect of UX, but arguably the most visible and obvious one. In this article you will learn the principles that make for good interface design.

Principles of UX Design

UX Apprentice

The UX Apprentice website is a hands-on learning tool that guides you through the stages of UX design. By learning about Discovery, Strategy, and Design you will develop a basic understanding of what goes in to UX. It also offers links to abundant additional resources to continue your UX education.

UX Apprentice

Smashing UX Design book

As far as entry-level UX books go, the Smashing UX Design book is second to none. In 33 chapters almost every aspect of UX design is discussed, accompanied by numerous illustrated examples. If you buy one book about UX design, this should be it. Also make sure to check out the wealth of fantastic content on UX design on Smashing Magazine’s website.

Smashing UX Design book

BJ Fogg Behaviour Model

When you’re ready to learn more about the psychology of UX, Stanford professor BJ Fogg’s behaviour model is a great place to start. His accessible model for behavioural change is a great primer to help you understand how UX can encourage positive outcomes.

BJ Fogg Behaviour Model

UX StackExchange

In the process of learning about UX you will undoubtedly have many questions. The StackExchange UX section is a great platform for asking questions and getting meaningful answers. Before asking a question, make sure you search through the existing answers first to see if what you need to know has already been answered.

UX StackExchange

UX Meetups

Learning UX on your own can only get you so far. At some stage you will want to get talking to other UX enthusiasts and learn from them. Attending a local meetup about UX or a closely related topic is a great way to meet new people and share stories and experiences. It can be daunting to show up at one of these events for the first time, but stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to learn new things.

User Experience Meetups

UX Blogs & Websites

Like with all technology disciplines, there are abundant websites and blogs that talk about UX. Here are a few of my favourites:

Go Forth and Learn

With these resources you have the basic tools to start understanding UX and appreciate the immense value it can bring to every project. UX is not something that can be ignored or underestimated. Everything we do online relies on great UX, and the sooner you start embedding best UX practices in your digital marketing, the greater the rewards you will reap.

What other great UX resources do you know of? Spread the love and share them in the comments.

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Barry Adams is one of the editors of State of Digital and is an award-winning SEO consultant based in Belfast, delivering specialised SEO services to clients across Europe.

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