As more businesses cross over into the digital realm, user experience and satisfaction on the web becomes an increasingly important factor for commercial success.
Expertise in this field is enjoying much demand, particularly in Asia – which the World Bank has cited to be the fastest growing and most dynamic economic region in the world. A considerable portion of the region’s population is made of highly discerning Digital Natives who have come to expect convenience and novelty in everyday Internet engagement. For industries interested in creating a presence in the area, the stakes are particularly high.
But what exactly does it take to become a successful professional in this particular discipline? By definition, UX Architecture or User Experience Design (UXD) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product. It has roots in ergonomics, but mainly focuses on its Human-Computer Interaction aspect.
Compared with Information Architecture (IA), which focuses on actual structure – i.e., organization of content: categorizing information in websites for users to easily and conveniently access – UXD deals with the more “emotional” side of things. It seems confusing at first, but once you grasp that IA is a part of UXD, things get clearer.
UXD provides the context in which these catalogued content are accessed. It considers not only navigation in the website or similar digital application, but also the ability of these features to facilitate engagement. Read: making sure there is an additional perceived value to the already nice and useful thing you made.
To become a decent enough UX architect, you need at least two things, aside from the given curiosity and literacy in technology: an understanding of the human psyche, and a creative flair.
According to UX designer Larry Marine, while it is possible to be good at UX without having a background in cognitive psychology, those that have a degree in the field or at least more than a basic understanding on the subject have higher odds at excelling. Remember, the designer must consider the user’s feelings or emotions.
A good UX architect must understand that traditional marketing demographics have little bearing on their design process. What should be useful to them are cognitive and behavioural specifics, such as people’s motivations and desired outcomes. They need to be able to describe a particular persona, explain why the business can benefit from catering to its characteristic, and clearly enumerate how – not from speculation, but as displayed by psychological models.
As for creativity, the UX architect must be able to deliver unique experiences. For example, in a place like Asia where the level of development in information and communications technology varies from region to region, a catch-all approach is not particularly viable. So if a company has targets placed across the existing levels in the area, a resourceful designer is a huge asset.
All in all, you can conclude that you must be a cross between a psychologist and a creative director (or at least have the characteristics of one who is) if you want to thrive and make a name for yourself in UXD. But do not be deterred. There is always more than one approach to an end result, especially in an emerging discipline like UXD.
You may not have all the qualifications or skills ironed out yet, but you can start by honing your already existing abilities and investing in ones that you don’t. Enrol in classes and seminars, or simply take the time to teach yourself by researching materials over the Internet. With enough effort, anyone can become what they want to be.
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