User Experience Challenge Announced
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Published on September 13, 2014
Microsoft is encouraging student developers and designers to give consideration to ux design with their 2015 User Experience challenge. The competition requires students to create many of the components used in a traditional user experience design process. This includes creating storyboards that walk a user through a typical experience with an application or website, a user flow diagram that shows how users experience the key functionality, along with information architecture diagrams that show how the pages, screens, and menus tie together. Participants are also expected to create low fidelity wireframes which show sample screens from a project. These are sketch-like iterations which illustrate core concepts of a design, without providing precision detail needed for final implementation. A final high-fidelity mock-up is the final deliverable for the ux design competition. The mock-up provides a visual design that is ready to implement, and represents the final design of the app or website being created.
By adding a UX design challenge to their annual Imagine Cup, Microsoft is acknowledging the importance that user experience design plays in creating a successful application or website. It is important that students who are learning to code at an earlier age also learn to recognize the role that UX design plays in an application. The best coded app or website won’t succeed if users find it difficult to navigate or don’t understand the navigational structure. By planning out the user experience before coding, developers spend less time making revisions, and are more likely to achieve their desired results. This is not the first effort Microsoft has made at directing attention towards the importance of ux design. While it has not yet been widely adopted, Microsoft’s Windows Phone has received praise by many user experience professionals.
The Imagine Cub competition is open to students ages 16 and older, and includes a $3,000 prize for the first-place winner. Learn more about the UX competition here. If you’re no longer a full-time student but want to learn more about UX, consider the UX classes or user experience certificate at American Graphics Institute.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.