Week 1 – UXD Principles and Concepts

By sethmsparks

Preface – As of Jan 2019, I’ve enrolled at Kent State University, seeking a Masters of Science in User Experience Design. As such, certain coursework in the curriculum will require regular blog posts (reflections) of weekly learnings. This is the first of those posts.

In reflecting on Week 1 in UXD Principles and Concepts, I feel that we’ve covered a lot of ground. We began with the Kent State LUMEN model for design, which is similar to the Design Thinking Process, but contains a final element (iNform) that necessitates thinking about why designs are made and reporting to stakeholders. That led to a foundational understanding of what roles exist on a UX team that may use LUMEN, how the reporting structure for that team may look, and how that team may go about its engagements with its partners, whether they be internal partners or clients. I find that I’ve done many tasks similar to those defined by the Content Strategist, but am just as interested in UX Strategist and Interaction Design roles. What’s interesting to me is how imperative it is that all of the roles come together to achieve UX success. In a business world where we preach the importance of experience, my department (if not our entire company) is ill-equipped to handle the experience design needs of all our customers.

We also learned the basic elements of experience design this week, as defined by Jesse James Garrett. Garrett’s Elements of Experience are conceptualized as “planes” on which different components design considerations take places. Each level – Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope, and Strategy – has its own significance in the design process. But it’s important to remember that this is not a linear path and that there must be some overlap during phase shifts to ensure each is applied thoughtfully. This is complicated, though necessary when we traverse both the software and information sides of each plane. Additionally, the software vs information mindset stipulates specific needs that must be accommodated on each plane, resulting in a more comprehensive model for considering the end-to-end design process.

“Design is concerned with how things work, how they are controlled, and the nature of the interaction between people and technology.” – Don Norman

Finally, we learned to think about the human element of design. The Ted Talk from Tony Fadell implored us to think bigger, think smaller, and think younger, to better notice things that we’ve habituated to. The Design of Everyday Things communicated the importance of discoverability and usability in design, whether it be a product, site, or anything else. My favorite line from the first chapter may be this: “Design is concerned with how things work, how they are controlled, and the nature of the interaction between people and technology.” That concern is made evident through designers use of affordances, signifiers, constraints, mappings, and feedback. However, a designer’s most important job may be helping craft the visualization of the conceptual model, which affords the user the ability to see how the object should work, and what to do if it doesn’t.

My Week 1 notes are viewable here.