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Pretty much every single day I get a tweet, email, or in person request for information on how to get started in the field of user experience. I’ve recently had a few people reach out to me even asking me to mentor them throughout the process. Given that I often find myself repeating the same answers over and over again, I decided to put all of my resources in a single blog post so that folks could easily access a consolidated version of my advice.
So you wanna be a user experience designer?
The best way to learn a new language is to go to a country where it’s spoken and immerse yourself in the confusion. Soon the unfamiliar will become familiar, and before you know it you’ll be fluent.
If you’re interested in getting to know more about user experience, I recommend doing the same. You may choose to simply understand the terminology, or become conversant. You might later decide to tackle some of the more complex concepts.
There are many steps to the process, but I am starting with Resources because I believe you need a great arsenal before kicking off any journey. In future posts I’ll discuss:
- Guiding Principles
- Transitioning from other careers
- Practice Landscape
…as well as any other topics that come up along the way.
I have organized the resources below in what I perceive to be lightest to deepest engagement — publications and blogs, books, local events, organizations, mailing lists, webinars, workshops, conferences, and schooling.
DISCLAIMER: These are my personal recommendations, and plenty of people will disagree with me on many points, I’m sure. But this is what has worked for me — the people/places/events/organizations that have kept my interest throughout my schooling and career — and where I believe anyone who wants to immerse themselves in user experience should start their journey. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.
- Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton
- Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman
- The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper
- Subject To Change by Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, and David Verba
- The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett
- About Face 3 by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin
- A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler
- Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter
- Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell
- Designing Visual Interfaces by Kevin Mullet
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (the Polar Bear book) by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville
- Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web by Christina Wodtke and Austin Govella
- Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach
- Web Form Design by Luke Wroblewski
- Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
- Handbook of Usability Testing by Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell
- Observing the User Experience by Mike Kuniavsky
- Communicating Design by Dan Brown
- Konigi by Michael Angeles
Tips, tools and techniques for being a better user experience designer
- Disambiguity by Leisa Reichelt
The ins and outs of designing a product with an existing, and passionate, community
- EverydayUX by Alex Rainert
A fresh look at the world around us through UX-tinted glasses
- Graphpaper by Christopher Fahey
Critical analysis of some of the toughest issues facing UX designers today
- inspireUX by Catriona Cornett
Cubical-wall worthy quotations from a variety of practitioners on how and why to create positive user experiences
- Bokardo – Social Design by Joshua Porter
For everything you need to consider when designing socially-focused stuff
- Logic + Emotion by David Armano
Reusable visualizations and valuable synthesis at the intersection of user experience design, marketing and business
- Putting People First by Experientia
A great resource for all things UX from around the globe
- Brain Sparks by User Interface Engineering (UIE)
Inside the brilliant minds of user research pioneer Jared Spool and his team
- Design for Service by Jeff Howard
Insights into all the ways companies need to be communicating with their customers, outside of their websites
- UX Booth by Redd Horrocks, Matthew Kammerer, David Leggett, and Andrew Maier
A group blog written by up-and-coming designers and developers with fresh perspectives on user experience design. They represent the next generation of our community
- Boxes and Arrows
Journal dedicated to discussing, improving and promoting the work of the information architecture community
Magazine including timely articles, stories, and content related to the interactions between experiences, people, and technology, published by the Association for Computing Machinery
Insights and inspiration for the user experience community written by many distinguished practitioners
Industrial Design content and community site – articles, discussions, interviews and resources
- UX Book Club
- IxDA chapters
- UPA chapters
- IAI Local Groups
- SIGCHI chapters
- User Experience Meetups
- Information Architecture Meetups
- Lots more events listed at UXnet.org
- Information Architecture Institute (IAI)
- Interaction Design Association (IxDA)
- Usability Professionals Association (UPA)
- User Experience Network (UXnet)
- Special Interest Group – Computer Human Interaction (ACM/SIGCHI)
- UIE’s Virtual Seminars
A monthly series of online seminars giving you the chance to hear the latest perspectives in the world of design from the field’s premier experts.
$129 each. 90 minutes.
- Rosenfeld Media’s Future Practice Webinars
The cutting edge of contemporary user experience research and design methods and practices.
$99 each. 60 minutes.
- Adaptive Path’s Virtual Seminars
$129 each. 75 minutes.
- Smart Experience online material
- UIE Roadshow
In this full-day, in-depth seminar you’ll discover the key experience-design factors, analyze your team’s strengths and weaknesses, create an experience vision, and learn the role of delight.
- AdaptivePath’s UX Intensive
This four-day workshop series is for experienced professionals wanting to take their practice to the next level.
- Cooper U
A practical collection of courses that help product team members improve their effectiveness from early planning all the way through implementation.
- Good Experience Live (GEL)
A conference and community exploring good experience in all its forms — in business, art, society, technology, and life.
- IDEA Conference
The world’s foremost thinkers and practitioners sharing the big ideas that inspire, along with practical solutions for the ways people’s lives and systems are converging to affect society.
- Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience (Mx)
Thought leaders from major corporations show you how smart and visionary management will help you successfully compete in a difficult economy.
- UIE’s User Interface Conference
Examining the biggest issues in the world of web design, information architecture, and usability.
- NN/g’s Usability Week
A three-day usability camp, a three-day intensive session on interaction design, and several specialized, day-long tutorials on core usability topics. Come for as few or as many days as you want.
Tutorials, workshops, Experienced Practitioners program, then two and a half days packed with presentations, Idea Markets, and opportunities to network with other user experience professionals.
- IxDA Interaction Conference
Three days of inspirational and tactical sessions geared at anyone who practices Interaction Design, as well as a day of pre-conference workshops.
- IA Summit
The premier gathering place for information architects and other user experience professionals. Two days of pre-conference sessions, two keynotes and over 50 presentations.
- Adaptive Path’s UX Week
A mix of inspiring talks from recognized thought leaders and hands-on workshops delivering takeaway skills, this event delivers for user experience professionals at all levels — directors, managers, and practitioners.
- UIE’s Web App Summit
The four-day Summit includes two days of intensive full-day workshops and two more days of featured presentations from world-renown experts, to give you fresh perspectives and new insights on today’s web app design challenges.
- UX Australia
3-day user experience design conference, with inspiring and practical presentations, covering a range of topics about how to design great experiences for people.
- UX London
A unique three-day event combining inspirational talks with in-depth workshops presented by some of the industry’s biggest names.
- ACM’s CHI
The premier international conference for the field of human-computer interaction.
Human Computer Interaction
- Human Computer Interaction Institute
at Carnegie Mellon University
(where I received a bachelor’s and master’s degree)
- Master of Science in Information – HCI Specialization
at University of Michigan
- Full list of HCI degree programs
- Master of Design in Interaction Design
at Carnegie Mellon University
- Master of Fine Arts in Interaction Design
at School of Visual Arts
(starting fall 2009)
- Undergraduate minor in Interaction Design
at Savannah College of Art and Design
- Interactive Telecommunications Program
at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts
- Institute of Design
at Illinois Institute of Technology
Want to pursue a career in UX, but don’t know where to start?
When you Learn the Ropes with Whitney Hess, you get a personalized program to practice the skills, study the principles, refine the process, and develop the portfolio you need to excel in User Experience. ONLY 2 SLOTS LEFT! Learn more >
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