So, let's take a look at what experience design is all about.

Experience design – that’s typically UX, UI, CX and HCD – is a rewarding career, filled with fascinating projects, opportunities to grow, interesting people to meet and meaningful problems to solve.

I’ve been growing careers in our industry since 1999 – the first one was my own! Every seasoned practitioner and industry pioneer started with no knowledge and no experience, so don’t panic if you feel like you’re starting from behind the pack. I'm here to show you the ropes.

For now, let’s explore a few industry terms.

What's the deal with all those different role names?

UX, CX, UI, service designer, product designer, strategic designer, human centred designer – phew! Our industry is still so young, and evolving so fast, that new job names appear all the time.

Here’s a little primer for you:

  • Human centred design (HCD) is the umbrella term for the overall approach of solving problems by placing the human experience at the heart of the solution. This can apply to any type of problem or challenge – a process challenge, a business challenge, or a technical one.

  • Within the HCD family are a few different approaches. Customer experience (CX) design looks at the entire spectrum of experiences that a person has when they interact with you. Service design is a subset of CX – it addresses the overall customer experiences, as well as the business processes and the organisational systems that underpin it.

  • Then there’s UX itself, which tends to look at a single user touchpoint in great depth. This is usually (but not always) a digital touchpoint, and the UX designer creates the interaction between the organisation and the user with regard to that single touchpoint. There is often a fuzzy line between a UXer, who looks at interaction, and a UI, who will have graphic design skills and creates the visual treatment of the interaction.

 

Which one is right for me?

It depends. If you’re a person who likes to think strategically, has endless curiosity, and finds that answering one question only leads to many more questions, service design or CX work might be for you. Service designers and CXers typically wear three hats: researcher, business strategist, and process/experience designer. It’s a great job for people who get bored easily, as it draws on a wide range of skills. It’s also good for people who might want to build a commercial career for themselves, as there is a lot of exposure to business strategy. People in these roles also need to develop great stakeholder engagement skills – you may find yourself selling ideas up the chain of an organisation, defending your research against difficult stakeholders, or taking a strong position as a customer advocate within a business.

If you enjoy working with technology, and are interested in the impact it can have on the human experience, UX might be a good choice for you. UXers need to know how to research customer insights, but they also need to translate this into a usable, useful and engaging interface design that hits the mark both for users and the business. UX can be fiddly and frustrating at times, as you iterate your work you need to be able to respond to feedback from your users and know when an idea that you might love is just not working. It’s a booming career option right now, with a lot of scope for interesting work that can take you around the world.

And if you have a flair for aesthetics, UI design might be for you. Typically UIs are less involved with the user research and more focused on the visual appearance of the interface. UIs work closely with UXers and need to know how to interpret the insights that come out off the research into an engaging visual design that supports user goals.

How to get started

The Experience Design Career Kickstart is a free 5-day mini-course for you to figure out a direction and a plan for your new career. Sign up to receive five days of emails with specific instructions, tasks and advice to set your new career on the right path.

Day 1: Which direction?

Learn about a day in the life of different practitioners, and which type of HCD role is best for you.

Day 2: Strong foundations

Find out how to get a basic grounding in UX/CX skills and how to get your HCD education underway.

Day 3: Networking

It’s never too early to start making connections and our industry is full of friendly people ready to share their experience.

Day 4: Leveraging existing skills

No one is a blank slate. You might have a previous career you can draw from, or have experiences from your education that you can leverage to get you started.

Day 5: Start your engines

Identify the first piece of work you will contribute to your portfolio and start getting some real world experience.

Stop wondering how to get your foot in the door.

Sign up for the FREE five day career kickstart and get your new experience design career underway.

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