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What does it take to enter the User Experience field?

by on September 21, 2007

At last night’s UX ChitChat event, one of the questions we discussed was how to support people interested in breaking into the field as a practitioner. We concluded with the observation that it might seem like a daunting challenge! UX covers a broad range of activities across design, business, and technology — so where to start? How to become expert in those topics? Is that even reasonable?

The short answer: no, it’s not reasonable. UX practitioners are “T-shaped”, meaning they are conversant in a breadth of activities, but go deep and become expert at only a few. In this article from Fast Company, Tim Brown of Ideo describes the result:

“They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That’s what you’re after at this point — patterns that yield ideas.”

Back in 2004, Peter Boersma wrote a blog entry worth checking out, in which he explores the T-shaped model in depth from the perspective of information architecture and user experience (complete with pictures, even!).

Last night, we also shared some thoughts on the qualities and characteristics of UX practitioners. In the course of conversation, we touched upon these two resources:

Be sure to check out Qixing Zeng’s blog post from this morning, in which she shares her thoughts as a result of last night’s discussion. Her post includes links to some other resources around the question of what does it take to be a great UX designer?

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One Comment
  1. Amazing what you encounter when you’re not looking for it. Just stumbled across Peter Merholz’s thoughts on T-shaped people: “So, where do I fit, if I’m not T-shaped?”

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