Why it’s time to start learning UX

I started specializing in UX Design since 2005 back in Egypt I moved around a little bit, but only since a year plus ago I moved physically out of the Middle East expecting that there’s more mature Design culture elsewhere.

Well not to disappoint you I’ve been studying the Asian UX design market for over a year now, attending events, chatting around, attending and making workshops, consulting for companies and the answer unfortunately is NO, it’s not only about the Middle East it’s about everywhere, no true recognition for what proper UX Design value could be to a product.

So here’s a small test, open your smart phone now and check the apps you have in the first screen, those are the apps you use more often, check which counties those apps basically came from, mostly will be US based maybe UK, that’s the places that actually understand what UX is and pay for it, as you may/should already know that UX goal is to achieve more user engagement, and those apps you have in the first screen are the ones you are engaged too, which means you use more often, either for it’s value (maybe UBER) or it’s rich & relevant content (Facebook) or desirability (Game).

So to be crystal clear and keep this article easier to digest let’s mention two main things.

1- UX Design skills set availability (supply)

2- UX Design market (demand)

As for the skills set of UX (1) or if you prefer to call it product design, it’s really very rare, I’ve founded Simpleia 2012, since then I’ve been trying to spot all UX talents I can find in the Middle East and they’re really very few, I though when I move to Malaysia I’ll find more UX talents and I’m their for a year plus now and it’s the same exact situation, I’m even in a good relationship with clients and friends in Australia & Singapore and it’s the same situation too and I don’t think the rest of Asia will be any different, so my point is UX Professionals are very rare. and what I mean here is UX as in User Research, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing, Information Architecture, Interaction Design and yes UI but it’s not the only thing.

Why UX professionals are very rare then? which will bring us to point (2) the thing is the market of it is also very low, businesses don’t demand real UX Skills, what they think they need is UI/UX Designer which basically they mean by is a UI Designer with some basic UX understanding, or UX Developer which technically nonsense but what they mean is HTML/CSS Coder with a UI twist.

So why then do I think that now is a good time to start learning UX real skill set? because I strongly believe that businesses, are very much starting to understand the value of real UX, and I’m sensing this very much through the inquires we’re receiving nowadays and the type of UX understanding clients who started to finally show up, it’s now more than ever businesses started to realize how important UX is to the success of any product, look around and you can easily see that design oriented products are overtaking, think airbnb vs booking.com, slack vs basecamp, Flipboard vs Google Reader, even newly innovated services and business models like UBER’s.

It’s hard not to notice now that UX/Product Design is a key factor to any product (or service) success, and it’s not just a hypothesis any more it’s now a fact proven by numbers which businesses understands, I think IBM getting into design business by a hundred million dollars investment is like the breaking point of this fact, I mean it’s IBM it’s the last corporate I expected to start realizing it.

At Simpleia we’ve been contacted by some of the well known companies who have huge numbers of users in the Middle East over wide user research projects, think how much the Egyptian users alone are making to those companies, if even 1% more users engagement, conversion or growth is achieved, that’ll probably going to reflect millions of dollars of revenue growth.

So summing it all up, now is your move, businesses are starting to heavily demand UX Design skill set while it’s still very rare, so starting to learn UX now will be very rewarding very soon, just under one condition, to be really good at it, it’s the kind of job that you only count if you’re really good, like an artist if you are not a great artist you’ll end up with million other wannabe artists.