March 3, 2016
A design student recently asked me “What 3 skills are the top things to master in UX?”. It’s hard to limit an answer to just three, but this is how I replied…
In order to truly design something that’s going to be useful and meet the needs of a person, you really need to understand the problems you’re trying to solve for them, from their perspective. You need to do your research and try to get a feel for what it’s like to walk in their shoes for a while.
The first solution you come up with is rarely the best. It’s important to open yourself up to exploring new and left-of-field ideas. Collaboration with others is a key component to help with this, and don’t feel limited to just brainstorming with other UX designers either; you never know who might come up with the gem that turns into the killer solution.
My background’s in Industrial Design and I believe that the ability to understand 3-dimensional space and ergonomics really helps in terms of interaction design. It’s more than a series of individual, independent pages; it’s about understanding the bigger picture — how the information architecture, content, page structures, UI components and transitions all work together to deliver the whole experience.
Lastly (I’m cheating now — this is clearly a fourth!), I added that in relation to UX design for digital products, I think it’s really important to have an appreciation of basic UI principles such as visual hierarchy, grids and typography, as well as a some form of basic HTML/code understanding. I’m of the belief that it’s important to understand the medium you’re working with, even if you’re not writing the actual code. Much like a designer of furniture should understand the basic properties and mechanics of materials such as wood and steel.