7 Essential Resources & Tips to Get Started with UX

Hi, I’m Alexander Kluge, the curator of the ZEEF UX page. I´m a remote worker and co-creator of ON BOARD, a Colombian startup offering transformative travel and experiential learning journeys of 3–30 days in one country at a time — visiting and supporting local mentors and communities around the world.

Let´s have a UX, design or remote-work chat on Twitter

I’m also the founder of Coastery Camp. It’s a free write camp,online course and community where you learn to write while you help nonprofits and startups that bootstrap.

In this article I’ve compiled a collection of 7 essential resources & tips (taken from my ZEEF page) to get you started with UX.


Resource 1: What is UX?

UX is User Experience and cares about business goals and people’s desires using the product, website, app or service, especially in terms of ease and pleasure of use — which is why it is tightly connected to usability. It is often (not always) related to digital experiences in the web and apps.

“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
 — Nielsen Norman Group

UX is generally an interdisciplinary field and not something you do (or a verb). Therefore it comprises aspects of media design, computing, computer science, psychology, culture, marketing, usability and many more (see resource 2).

The basic foundation to understand UX is to put the user (human person) into the center of the design process, in a user-centered design (UCD) approach.

The term is widely and frequently used which makes people confuse it with UI design (see resource 5).

Tim R. Todish (from UX Magazine) crisply says:

Too often, UX is narrowly defined as one of the many disciplines that make up UX as a whole (e.g., wireframing, information architecture, etc …). On your next project, if you’re asked to “UX it,” stand up for yourself and kindly explain that UX is a holistic process. It’s not a box you can tick off a to-do list.

Resource 2: The Disciplines of UX

You will often find the term UX Design (UXD), not solely UX, because people talk about the actual creation (design) of experiences. So it makes sense to use the term UX Design which you will see in the overview of disciplines of user experience design below and the next resources and tips as well.

The Disciplines of User Experience (Kicker Studio)

Dan Saffer about the diagram above:

It’s still not perfect: it’s missing Sound Design and Ergonomics/Human Factors, and the way the circles had to overlap downplays Visual Design. […] HCI is partially out of the circle because of its different (non-design) traditions and methodologies, and also because of its focus on pure research. Industrial design (and, in truth, architecture should do this too), pokes out of the circle because it has involvement in areas that do not directly involve the user, such as manufacturing (or in the case of architecture, building) specifications.

Resource 3: The Elements of User Experience (PDF)

As part of the web-centric book “The Elements of User Experience” the author (Jesse James Garrett)has made a very important graphic in the book freely available. Specifically for the web context, it differentiates the web as a software (interaction) and a hypertext system (information). Surely, both exist at the same time.

The Elements of User Experience (Jesse James Garret)

UX, according to Garrett, takes user needs and business objectives into consideration and is the conceptional and more abstract starting point of the design process, followed by defining functional and content specifications and eventually creating the actual design for the information, navigation, interface and general visual appearance.


Resource 4: The Fundamentals of Experience Design (PDF)

Regarded from a broader perspective, “designing (for) experiences is fundamentally about people, activities, and the context of those activities.” (Steven P. Anderson)

The Fundamentals of Experience Design (Stephen P. Anderson)

The interesting observation is the dimension Anderson applies when he doesn’t talk about users but people, and activities and their context, not business owners with their goals. It opens up your point of view that it’s not only two parties involved (users and product/service owners) but a whole environment that is affected and benefits from the experience or interaction(see resource 7).


Resource 5: The Difference between UX and UI Design

Design is how it looks, feels and works (as famously said by Steve Jobs). While you learnt above that UI/interaction design is part of the whole UX process a short way to differentiate both could be:

You can have an application with a stunning design that is hairy to use (good UI, bad UX). You can also have an application that has a poor look and feel, but is very intuitive to use (poor UI, good UX).
 — Onextrapixel

Resource 6: The Cooper Goal Directed Design Process

Although it can feel overwhelming getting started to read the goal-directed process Alan Cooper developed, it is very insightful and valuable for more in-depth explorations to creating a mindset of human-centered design.

Basically you find one person, understand their vision and their final desired end state, and then make them ecstatically happy about reaching their end state. That is the essence of Goal-Directed Design.
 — Alan Cooper

He continues:

And what you need are two things: 1) Find (or synthesize) the right person and 2) Design for that person. At a place like Apple, Steve Jobs was already that right person, and they needed look no further.

You can see the whole goal-directed design process here.


Resource 7: About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

For many the most important book and crucial reading in order to profoundly understand designing experiences for the digital age is ¨About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design” by Alan Cooper. It covers topics like:

  • Understanding Goal-Directed Design (see resource 6)
  • Designing Behavior and Form
  • Designing Interaction Details

Conclusion

The next level of UX is human story experience design (HSXD) combining the lessons learnt from designing experiences with the power of (transmedia) storytelling and story-writing.

More UX? Explore my ZEEF page for more hands-on articles, guides, tutorials and blogs, there is still tons of UX information to discover. (You can also contribute to the page by suggesting other quality UX links).

For readers of my guest ZEEF post, I offer two of my scientific papers for free.

  1. UX of Text Adventures in Theory & Practice”, or download via tweet
  2. “Introduction to Transmedia Storytelling”, or download via tweet

(Both in German)