Since I didn’t discover any highlight that I want to share with you here this week, I decided to jot down a brief record of my progress in learning interaction design.
With a more-than-7-year engineering background, I am not a typical “design” person, in terms of making things in a visually appealing fashion. However, my decision to make user experience designer as my career goal is not irrational or impulsive: because I know design for user experience is much more than visual elements, but includes deep empathy, and sensitivity to details, and requires a mind of systematic thinking. I am quite confident that my past and current academic training gave me a good foundation on these, and I will approach this career from a different perspective and skill-set compared to those visual designers or industry designers out there. But I am also fully aware that I need to pick up handy tools to turn my understanding of the users into an interactive and testable product. That’s the reason I am trying to devote some time learning technical skills to render different stages of prototypes.
Things I’ve been up to are: using photoshop to do wireframe and low-/ high-fidelity prototyping; leaning elements that should be sliced from photoshop to be used in frontend coding versus elements should be written just in HTML and CSS; learning HTML, CSS, and jQuery to build interactable websites. With other course work load and research work load, learning these parallel is a challenge and opportunity for me. The best lesson I learned along the way is: learn it when you need it; practice it once you learn it. With several projects in the line, I am pushed to pick up necessary skills as needing them for the projects. This has been an efficient learning journey for me since I don’t typically work in this way as a more “theory”-oriented person. I kept quick notes of handy skills and tried to practice them as soon as having a chance. I tried out different ideas, for both practicing newly-learned skills and preparing alternatives for the design.
Nearly 2 months have passed and I am making progress gradually. Now I would probably call myself a guru in Photoshop for Web design (not for creating arts or decorating photographs, though). I am glad that I figured out what my standpoint and my contribution could be to the UX design area, and I am acquiring corresponding knowledge and skills. I might not become a talented visual designer in my life, but I can really be a good UX designer who always have users in her mind, turn her understanding to product prototypes, and test & improve them constantly.
Finally, Lynda.com is a great resource I would like to recommend to everyone who wants to learn web design and development. Dig up the university’s database, hopefully you can get these great tutorials for free.