A photo of Gandhi with the words "the most effective way to change the world is to share a meme on Facebook"

Teacher Response to Module #3: You’ve Been Bit by the UX Bug; Now Go Change the World

Business Keeping

Grades and individual feedback on Blackboard.

Proof you’ve been bit by the UX bug

The exciting thing about this class is that I get to make UX designers. Most people come into graduate classes with some pretty good working knowledge of the subject matter. Everyone has done research before. Everyone has done technical writing of some form or other.

With UX, though, it really is a different way of thinking that isn’t introduced elsewhere in our educational system. I get to see people start to adopt this way of thinking. I’ve seen you all do that in this class and I couldn’t be happier with your progress thus far.

Now go change the world

At this point in a UX class, I often tell students that their job after the class is to go change the world. This may seem like the usual humanities idealist bullshit, but: I really mean it. UX is important. And it impacts more and more of what we do in our society.

So, now that you know something about it, your obligation is to help make things better in your specific neck of the woods. Here are some tips for doing so based on my experiences doing UX for the past 4+ years:

  • You don’t help people by doing free work. I’m certainly not saying: “become a full-time UX designer for your current organization on top of your regular job.” I pretty much did that when I first got to ECU and it was a huge mistake. Everyone was asking me for help and I got sucked into a million hours of unpaid service work and all it did was slow down my research, which is what ultimately gets you tenure as a college professor.
  • There is room within a lot of existing jobs for UX. That being said, my work with the NCCA has been great, and has created a lot of opportunities for me. And: I wouldn’t be involved in the project if it weren’t for UX. I’m not a geographer, but my value-add is that I can help them think about design in a new way.
  • At the heart of UX is the user, so whatever you can do to make things better for users of any stripe is a good thing. All this being said, if you’re in a position to make an application better for a certain type of user, you have to do so. Even if this is as simple as pointing out a flaw in a design that precludes a certain type of user. Or doing a 5-minute usability test to demonstrate why an application isn’t performing as well as it should be. Or helping a non-profit better manage their content.

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