COVID has resulted in a further shift of consumers towards interacting with brands online. Seamless customer experience design is more important than ever before and naturally creatives are looking to the growing fields of CX and UX for opportunities. So how do you get in? We asked industry experts
What advice would you give to those looking to start their career in CX or UX?
One: Read, read and read some more.
You aren’t going to become an expert overnight but reading and learning from the experts will help your work infinitely. Wes Fagan gives his recommendations on what to read up on:
“Personally, I would read as much as I possibly could around human decision making and mental models. Understanding what a hook model is, and how to sell something. Look into the role of typography, into understanding what information architecture actually is. UX is a whole mis-mash of different things.
I have this awesome book called Experience Design: A Framework for Integrating Brand, Experience, and Value by Patrick Newbery and Kevin Farnham. At the top level, Experience Design has got as much to do with design, as about business and change management. Those three things there are critical in being a UX’er.”
Two: Take a course.
Extra qualifications can make a candidate stand out. General Assembly and Academy Xi are running virtual classroom UX programs during Covid, with Coursera another good resource for online learning.
Paul Kelly believes online resources are a good start:
“For CX and XD methods, IDEO and Udemy are good online learning platforms. But for regular and useful peer created information, creating an account on Medium.com gives you exposure to relevant articles and approaches to expand thinking in the XD and CX space.”
These online resources help with the foundations of UX, but remember that UX principles are built from human interactions. Understanding customer psychology is far more complex than enrolling in a short course, but it is a great place to start.
Three: Try out your ideas
Applying the theory and generating case studies is essential. So, seek out projects and do some real-world testing. Julio Castellano discusses the importance of putting theory into practice and engaging users throughout:
“Once you understand how the principals work, you then need to start applying them in real-life situations and actually talking to your customers. If you are not talking to people, experimenting and getting the feedback, you are not doing human-centred design.”
If you are currently employed, but not exposed to areas of UX, speak up. Ask for an opportunity to be involved in the process. James Sutton believes having curiosity and an interest in understanding UX will pay dividends:
“You need to learn on the job. If you want to learn more about UX, be proactive and ask your team if you can help out.”
If on the job learning isn’t an option, be proactive. Julio encourages aspiring Experience Designers to seek out personal projects:
“Redesign existing products. Ask friends with businesses if you can redesign or improve their products. Ask charities if they need any help.”
Four: Build a portfolio
Build a portfolio to showcase your understanding and application of Experience Design. This should be made up of a handful of case studies based on your commercial or self-initiated projects.
Whilst the layout and aesthetics of any creative portfolio are important, Paul Kelly outlines the factors to consider specific to an Experience Design portfolio:
“Diversity of approaches, clear narratives and evidence of robust methodologies that lead to meaningful outcomes is key.”
When showcasing a UX or CX case study, highlighting your process is important, but showing how this was led by customer interaction essential. As Wes Fagan explains:
“Articulate both how and why you’ve got to where you’ve got to. Your decisions should be based on considering the mental models and cognitive load for the user, so show how that has influenced your decisions.”
And finally five: Set realistic goals
Don’t be disheartened if you have to take a step back and start as a junior. The only way is up, and in UX and CX progression can be quick. Patrick Kennedy speaks about the importance of being realistic
when starting out:
“Walk before you run. Too many people are eager to get into this field and dive head first into a role in an environment which they are not ready for, and it's often detrimental to their confidence and development.
Typically, joining a large and well-structured design team in a junior role will be much better than say a "lead" role in a design team of one in a company that does not understand design nor know how to support a designer to develop.”
Learn, develop, and earn your stripes.
Time to explore the world of Experience Design is now. Brands are placing greater importance on interacting with their customers online. Understanding UX fundamentals and putting them into practice will open up opportunities.
Follow these five tips and you really will have the U-X-Factor.
Article written by Amy Morrison and Jonny
James Sutton – Design Director and Partner at Studio LDN, an independent Customer Experience Consultancy. Previously held Lead Experience Design roles at Qantas, AKQA and CX Lavender.
Julio Castellano - Lead Product Designer currently working with Woolworths. Previously held lead roles with Tabcorp, Sydney Water, The Sun, Spaceship & Lifestyle Channel. Julio has also taught UX/UI design at Academy Xi, mentored designers, authored design articles and spoken at design events.
Patrick Kennedy - Design Director for Designit Australia, part of a global strategic design agency and a history of experience design and design led transformation dating back 30 years.
Paul Kelly – Experience Design Director at CX Lavender. Previously the Head of Digital Experience at full-service agency WiTH Collective.
Wes Fagan – Global Head of Digital Design, Product & Hardware Engineering at Coates Group, responsible for the end to end design & experience of Coates customers. Previously Experience Design Director at R/GA, Deloitte Digital, Atlas Communications Group and Ziller.