UX training perspectives from around the world
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Published on March 4, 2015
Traveling around the world delivering UX training courses for major corporations provides us with global perspective of how user experience is approached in different organizations and cultures. While we certainly see differences between organizations and cultures, we also find one consistency, when delivering UX training internationally. Whether providing UX consulting for a client in North America, delivering a training seminar in Asia, or a workshop in Europe, we frequently see features and messages emphasized more heavily than the items that help the end-user.
As more computer science programs and schools incorporate user experience training and human factors courses into their curriculum, we should expect that interfaces, apps, and websites would universally be getting easier to use. Yet factors such as usability, functionality, and user flow are either not considered, or placed at such a low priority that users are left to suffer through a poor experience that too often wastes their time, of causes them to abandon their original task. Instead we see a continued emphasis on adding features, with little thought as to how and when they will be used, or applying messages, with no thought as to how they should be prioritized with existing text, images, or items on a site or app. Developers working on existing projects often receive the charge of "Add this to the home page" or "Place this feature in the app" without regard for how current or future users will be impacted by the change. This is not limited to one country or culture, we see this lack of consideration of user experience consistently and internationally.
Despite evidence that there is a clear Return on Investment (ROI) for UX design, we continue to see many companies around the globe continue to push head-first into development initiatives. While they may include product managers and business analysts in the planning phases, before developing their website or app, they often fail to include even a single user experience professional. In other cases, we see a misconception that a user interface designer is assumed to be a user experience professional, despite the clear differences between UX and UI disciplines.
At a minimum, forward-thinking companies should cross-train business analysts and product managers to better understand an effective user experience process. Even developers can benefit from learning UX design so they can incorporate processes and best practices into their approach when they receive projects with limited direction surrounding usability. Organizations that have user interface designers, or even graphic design teams, can also benefit by having them adapt their existing skills through UX training. While having a dedicated UX professional on a development team is worthwhile, when it isn’t possible, exposing these other professionals to UX training helps save on development costs, improves the time for delivering projects, and enhances the user experience for the app or website your are creating.
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.