Grades on Canvas, as always.
What’s in a UX toolkit? Everything you’ve ever done.
Buley uses the metaphor of the toolkit to describe a collection of UX methods, and I think it’s a good one, though it can be confused with technologies UXers use (like TryMyUI and UXPin). Essentially, though, UX designers don’t have a term for “everything we can do,” so I think UX toolkit is the best term for this I’ve seen. The UX toolkit you deploy in this project should be whatever methods you need to utilize to meet the needs of these human beings and their attendant technological requirements. Your UX toolkit will shift and grow from project to project, in other words, and from client to client. It will never be exactly the same, but you should have some sense of how each project will take shape and what people, methods, and technologies you will need for each project.
Here’s my toolkit (so you have a real, live example)
After a few years of experience, your UX toolkit will morph around the projects you’ve completed: http://guiseppegetto.com/ux-consulting/. So, you’ll see I really live in three different worlds as a consultant:
- Content strategy
- Digital marketing
Why those three areas? Because that’s what people have historically paid me money to do ;-). UX is a business-related field. Even if you’re working for a non-profit, you’re trying to help that non-profit reach organizational goals through digital means. Again: your toolkit is just the collection of methods you have historically used to do so.
This doesn’t mean you can know everything: Regarding the myth of the “Design Unicorn”
The ultra-flexible, project-based, and market-driven nature of the field of UX has led many hiring managers to start looking for “Design Unicorns,” or individuals who can do everything UX-related for an organization. When I first got on the UX bandwagon about 5 years ago, I was very pro-unicorn, but the more actual UX work I do, the more ridiculous I think it is.
As the author of the above-linked article states: I have never met anyone who can do all parts of UX equally well. This doesn’t mean that these individuals don’t exist, but: geniuses also exist–that doesn’t mean you’re ever going to meet one. The Design Unicorn mythology is dangerous as UX seeks to establish itself as a profession of equal weight to older job descriptions like technical writers, developers, and graphic designers. A lot of hiring managers just want to hire someone who can write code, write language, design pretty things, and: oh, hey, can you also do all that in line with what users want?
As one thought leader recently put it: “UX without users is not UX,” meaning UX professionals should be primarily defined by their ability to design things in a user-centered manner. All other skills should be secondary to that primary focus.
Context is essential to UX
One thing you should take from this module is that context is essential to the UX design process, by which I mean: if you’re designing an experience for users and you don’t understand the context in which they will be using the technology you’re developing, then that technology will most likely fail. Enter contextual inquiry, the go to method of researching user contexts.
According to Potts and Bartocci, contextual inquiry is “a field research method used in user-
centered design. It is also often associated with participatory design methods” (p.19). Designers
engage in contextual inquiry to observe users in the contexts in which they use a product or
service, e.g. at work, at school, in their home. Contextual inquiry allows researchers or designers
to observe users and ask questions in real-time to understand the user’s reasons for certain
actions or behaviors. Based on the actual behavior of users, researchers/designers can make
data-informed decisions to improve processes or create new ones to address users’ needs. – Alexis
One of the main problems with contextual inquiry, however, is that it’s very qualitative, meaning it can generate a lot of data. If you’ve ever interviewed a bunch of people before and tried to condense all that information, you know what I mean. Enter the persona, a way of depicting prototypical users.
A persona is a single depiction of a larger group of people that share similar habits, behaviors, and characteristics. For UX design it helps realize a target audience which should help with inspiration of the design process. – Brian