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Getting into UX: How to take your first steps to a career in user experience

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Want to work in UX but can't get a job without experience? Here are a few ideas about how to break into the UX business, make a portfolio, win at your interview and design assessment - and whether UX is the right career for you. You can start doing UX in the job you already have, then build a portfolio from that.

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Getting into UX: How to take your first steps to a career in user experience

  1. 1. Starting a career in UX It’s fun if you like UX Phil Barrett, VP product and design at OfferZen Bakery session, Jan 2020
  2. 2. Hello. I’m Phil Barrett. 2017 - 20191998 - 2014 2014 - 2017 2019 -
  3. 3. How I got started, and started something
  4. 4. How I got started, and started something
  5. 5. How I got started, and started something
  6. 6. How I got started, and started something
  7. 7. How I got started, and started something
  8. 8. How I got started, and started something
  9. 9. How I got started, and started something
  10. 10. We’ll cover • How you know if you’re a UX designer • What skills you’ll need • Getting hired (from cover letter to interview) • How to get paid more
  11. 11. Are you a UX designer?
  12. 12. How many UX designers does it take to change a lightbulb?
  13. 13. How many UX designers does it take to change a lightbulb? Does it have to be a lightbulb?
  14. 14. How many UX designers does it take to change a lightbulb? Does it have to be a lightbulb? Obsessed with asking why and finding better alternatives? You could be a UX designer!
  15. 15. Indignant about confusing experiences? You could be a UX designer!
  16. 16. Indignant about confusing experiences? You could be a UX designer!
  17. 17. Fascinated by how other people see the world and why they do the things they do? You could be a UX designer
  18. 18. Got a passion for logic, systems, and processes? You could be a UX designer!
  19. 19. Need to express your artistic vision, confirm your genius and drown out the idiotic droning of your barbarian colleagues? You’re not a UX designer. You’re a liability.
  20. 20. “Outcome over ego”
  21. 21. UX designer skills
  22. 22. Lots of skills in the double diamond EMPATHISE DEFINE IDEATE PROTOTYPE & TEST
  23. 23. Lots of skills in the double diamond Diverge Converge Diverge Converge EMPATHISE DEFINE IDEATE PROTOTYPE & TEST
  24. 24. Lots of skills in the double diamond Diverge Converge Diverge Converge EMPATHISE DEFINE IDEATE PROTOTYPE & TEST Identify problems Make the right thing Identify solutions Make the thing right
  25. 25. Lots of skills in the double diamond Diverge Converge Diverge Converge EMPATHISE DEFINE IDEATE PROTOTYPE & TEST Identify problems Make the right thing Identify solutions Make the thing right Interviewing listening observing questioning Modelling distilling focussing explaining Leading nurturing imagining drawing Building Testing measuring iterating
  26. 26. The real world is often Lean UX (Build) MAKE (Measure) CHECK (Learn) THINK • Consider small changes • Work just ahead of the dev team • Get changes live based on sketches, design language and conversation • A/B test or measure them • Iterate
  27. 27. Many dimensions of a UX designer From Absa Design Office: Thanks Stuart Wiener, Alex Oloo, Tracey Solomon and many more!
  28. 28. Getting hired
  29. 29. If you have no experience in UX, OfferZen is not the place to start. Sorry.
  30. 30. Build up experience in your current job • Switching means a pay cut, unless you can start at the same level. • So in your current job, start doing UX things. Don’t ask for permission, just do the things. • Build up a portfolio. Take photos and screen grabs. • Eg. Customer interviews, call centre chats, Journey maps, wireflows, wireframes, UI, clickable prototypes, hall tests…
  31. 31. Do a course getsmarter, red&yellow, bakery…
  32. 32. Read high-signal sources and keep notes Highlight, then export the highlights as a file. Keep the file. Scan over it in 6 months.
  33. 33. Reading CVs is boring. Use your UX and design skills to make your CV useful, easy and delightful for the manager reading it.
  34. 34. Design your CV • Typography is a thing. • Layout is a thing. • Succinct, relevant copy is a thing. • Tone of voice is a thing. • Pictures are a thing. • Being a dedicated, hard working team player is not a thing. Nor is having a full, clean driving licence.
  35. 35. Write a human-centred cover letter • It’s the cherry on the cake - not the most important. Unless they ask you for it! • You have one sentence to grab their attention. Then a few more to persuade them. • Be interesting. Tell a story. Be witty or quirky. Show passion. • Being a dedicated, hard working team player is still not a thing. • Keep it short, simple, easy, clear.
  36. 36. Invent a UX portfolio • Assemble extracts of your real work. Make something out of it. (Those customer interviews, call centre chats, Journey maps, wireflows, wireframes, UI, clickable prototypes, hall tests…) • Add challenges you’ve set for yourself. Invent and deliver big, exciting design projects to demo your skills. • It’s not showing off, it’s passion and pride in your work.
  37. 37. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews
  38. 38. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews Be curious about the org you could be working in. “How does this company do <process>?”
  39. 39. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews Critique your own answers when you’re not satisfied. “I think <this> because <reasons> but I’m not completely sure because of <factors>.” Be curious about the org you could be working in. “How does this company do <process>?”
  40. 40. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews Critique your own answers when you’re not satisfied. “I think <this> because <reasons> but I’m not completely sure because of <factors>.” Be curious about the org you could be working in. “How does this company do <process>?” Admit failings as well as triumphs. “So <that> was a great project. But we also struggled with <this> and I’m still not happy with the result because <fault>.”
  41. 41. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews Critique your own answers when you’re not satisfied. “I think <this> because <reasons> but I’m not completely sure because of <factors>.” Be curious about the org you could be working in. “How does this company do <process>?” Admit failings as well as triumphs. “So <that> was a great project. But we also struggled with <this> and I’m still not happy with the result because <fault>.” What have you been doing that shows your passion? “I read <this> recently in <book> and tried it out <here>.” “I was working on this blog post…”
  42. 42. Be engaged, transparent and thoughtful in your interviews Critique your own answers when you’re not satisfied. “I think <this> because <reasons> but I’m not completely sure because of <factors>.” Be curious about the org you could be working in. “How does this company do <process>?” Admit failings as well as triumphs. “So <that> was a great project. But we also struggled with <this> and I’m still not happy with the result because <fault>.” What have you been doing that shows your passion? “I read <this> recently in <book> and tried it out <here>.” “I was working on this blog post…”What’s your current Norman door? I love <user experience> but I hate <thing> about it. I’d solve it by <solution>.”
  43. 43. Design challenge Any design team worth its salt will give you a design challenge to do. For years, I did a pizza ordering challenge. • Be thorough. Re-read the brief. Re-read your work. Do they match? • Do UCD. How can you actually go and meet customers and have a trial experience yourself? How can you user test your work? Do it. Then show you did it. • Be bold and show your workings. Have crazy ideas and show them. Settle on the right level of pragmatism to match the role. • Be solution obsessed. When the critique starts, take it and use it to suggest alternative, better solutions. (Outcome over ego).
  44. 44. To get paid more, relate UX to financial and growth objectives
  45. 45. To get paid more, relate UX to financial and growth objectives “This makes our users sad and confused. They don’t like doing it. We need to care for them and show them more love by doing a 12-week redesign.”
  46. 46. To get paid more, relate UX to financial and growth objectives “This issue is stopping 25% of customers from completing this key task. By making this small change, I estimate we can increase conversion by 8%. This gets us to our target of 100,000 registered customers and is worth R1million a year in revenue.” “This makes our users sad and confused. They don’t like doing it. We need to care for them and show them more love by doing a 12-week redesign.”
  47. 47. So remember… Outcome over ego. Shedloads of skills: so read a lot. Courses are nice. Build up a UX portfolio in your current job before you switch. Use your UX, design and writing skills to make your CV useful, easy and delightful for the manager reading it. Think and talk about money and you’ll earn more of it.
  48. 48. So remember… Outcome over ego. Shedloads of skills: so read a lot. Courses are nice. Build up a UX portfolio in your current job before you switch. Use your UX, design and writing skills to make your CV useful, easy and delightful for the manager reading it. Think and talk about money and you’ll earn more of it. Non!
  49. 49. Go well! phil@fronttoback.org

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