The UX job market is as competitive as ever, and the UX team at Cogs London are always keen to be at the forefront of industry updates, whether it be getting out and networking at meetups like @mobileUXLondon this week, or talking to UX-ers across the globe to ensure we are ahead of the trends.
Last week Claire and Paul caught up with Sarah Doody, a UX consultant based in NYC who specialises in both product and brand development and is passionate about creating engaging experiences. She frequently writes for UX Magazine and on her own site. Sarah also does a lot of teaching including this course on research. Previously in 2012, Sarah co-created and taught a 12 week user experience design curriculum for General Assembly’s education program.
This Q&A with Sarah, looks at the correlation between UX design and VR, the UX trends to look out for and what it means for UX-ers as teams are becoming more insular…
What do you see as the main challenges between UX design & VR?
One of the main challenges between UX design and VR will likely be concerning navigation. How will people go through virtual experiences? Some devices have controls on the headsets, some have gloves and handheld controls, and some have a cursor that moves depending on where you point your head. There’s also exploration around navigating with your eyes. The way you navigate or interact with something in a virtual world is somewhat contextual – it’s not just as simple as having a cursor to point at things and a button to select it. For example, if you were a child interacting with a virtual petting zoo (go with me here) then you would want to reach out and pet the animal with your hands. It would be weird to point at the annual and click it. Or, if you were a medical student practicing a surgery, again you would want to navigate with your hands and not something like a gaming controller. Obviously we are very early in figuring out the UX of VR, but the way we navigate these experiences will be critical.
“What are your thoughts about digital teams reporting into a UX / Product lead? Some say that all aspects including design, technology, strategy and delivery all feed into UX / Product, do you agree?”
As the field of UX grows and executives are realizing the impact that design can have on the bottom line, we’re seeing design have a seat at the executive level. Many larger companies have a C level design officer who drives the design vision and helps embed design in the company culture. Creating a great user experience is not the job of the UX team — the activities of many other teams in an organization can help make or break an experience. What the marketing, technology, and design teams do collectively will influence the experience that a customer has. Therefore, having all of those teams report to a design lead certainly makes sense. However I think it also depends on the size of the company and how long the company has been around.
UX teams are growing in regards to specialisms – are UX job roles becoming more insular to specific specialisms i.e. UX with mobile, research, strategy service design, and if not, should they?
When UX designers ask me if they should specialize, I always tell them to be a generalist and have a speciality. A lot of small start ups want generalists who can do a little bit of everything and in some cases this can help the product team move quite quickly, especially if it’s early stage and quite small. However, a more mature company may want specialists who can really dig deep and solve problems that have huge impact to the business. Whether or not you specialize is entirely dependent on the type of projects you want to work on and companies you want to work with. I recommend being a generalist for a while so you can figure out what exactly you want to specialize. The field is changing so quickly and you need time to explore what suits your skill set best.
At what point should UX specialists be involved in a project, some say from before the brief is out, some say once the brief is constructed?
User Experience Designers should be involved in a project as early as possible. In order to create a great experience, UX designers must understand various facets of the business. Therefore, the end up talking to stakeholders from various groups / departments. During this process, UX designers are often quick to realize when teams in an organization are not on the same page, or worse, not talking at all. The research and discover involved in the UX process helps teams get clear on what they are building and why. Failure to have this clarity will result in trouble later in the process. So that’s why it’s best to involve the UX designer as early as possible.
What do you see UX improving in the future, what new trends are out there? We’ve applied it to digital, experiential, guerrilla marketing products, but what next?
In the future, I see UX designers getting more involved in the design of things off the screen. For example, I myself would love to get involved in designing the experience that someone has say in an emergency room or while going through the security line at the airport. All the principles of user experience design are applied to solving problems such as these. At the end of the day we’re designing experiences for people, regardless of where that experience is (on a screen, in a building, on a plane, etc).
- Experience Design