“UX/UI Designer,” read the title  below a stranger’s name. Edgy, right?  They must do something highly specialized, I thought.  Then my friend mentioned that he thought I would be good at UX/UI design.  Really?  I was curious.

A year later and more mature, I began looking into what a UX/UI* designer does.  To my delight I found it includes a combination of many skills I had developed over the years and the best of what I enjoy doing!

Now fully intrigued, I’m noticing the effects of UX design or lack thereof all around me.  I’ve witnessed the struggle people have with advancing/changing technology and the desire to accomplish tasks that always seemed so normal and simple in an “analog” world.  Fear is the number one obstacle to change.  In my experience, FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) is never a good motivation.  Time expense is also a huge obstacle to adopting new ways of doing things.  Perhaps, well-executed design alleviates these concerns.  This is what I hope to find out.

Empathy is key in user centered design and my goal is that by nurturing this characteristic I will someday contribute to better solutions.  For a long time, having grown up with increasing amounts of technological tools, I had assumed it was natural to adapt to the next new thing.  This is not so for those who functioned well most of their lives without a single byte, website, online profile, smartphone or mobile phone for that matter!  Lately, I’ve become empathetic seeing how quickly I risk falling behind the times if I’m not open to riding the next wave of innovation.

UX Apprentice, a website published by Balsamiq, outlines three stages of user experience design–Discovery, Strategy, and Design.  Offering a plethora of well-organized resources, this site serves as the map for my journey.

*You notice I’ve added UI.  As I understand it, UI stands for User Interface and can be a separate job function but is a portion of the overall user experience.  A UI designer is focused on the look and feel of a product as it relates to functionality.  UI is usually addressed in the later stages of product development. 

Rachael Crowe