UX concerns constructing a person’s interaction with websites and apps to be the easiest and most pleasurable experience possible. It is the fastest growing design sector in the world. The process involves determining, defining, designing and developing digital products based on user needs, but doesn’t end there, once the product is launched, the UX designer evolves the product by constantly improving the user’s interaction with it.
The role of UX Designer is critical to the success of any digital product today. Coders/developers focus on building the product but as a UX designer, you'll guide that process and ensure that the product is beautiful, engaging, intuitive and accessible to all.
IT Sligo has long-standing experience in bringing design-focused students to the jobs market. With the increasing scope of digital products, a new generation of designer is needed - one who is familiar and appreciative of the work involved in building software and hardware solutions and who can play a 1st class role in ensuring the product is fit for market.
Year one of the course provides a strong foundation in design and computing. You'll be introduced to design language, basic coding, personal development and maker lab work. We measure the pace carefully to ensure you gain a solid foothold in this discipline. You'll work often in groups developing good problem solving skills and critical thinking.
You'll work increasingly on design employing tooling to help you express your ideas and realise your product. You'll employ industry standard tooling to enable you to envision your plans and communicate them to others. Here you'll work in our Maker Lab - a collaborative work space for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. You'll learn how to track users' behaviour with your product to learn from their interaction, and shape future iterations.
The emphasis is on professional practice and on building a major portfolio of work. You'll prep for work placement where your learning is tested in real companies building product in your field. We arrange interviews for all students where you get to decide what you'd like to work on, and where. You'll work on real-world projects with real outcomes.
Now that you have acquired a full tool skillset, we'll broaden your learning to include a greater awareness of the industry and the people you'll work with, and their priorities. You'll focus on a major capstone project and work closely with lecturer supervisors to help realise your goals.
You'll be entering a highly sought-after profession. You'll work closely in small teams with developers, UI designers, testers, marketing to ensure the product meets the market need. You'll be a UX Designer, or Front-end designer, or Information Architect.
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” - Dr. Ralf Speth.
User Experience (or Digital Product Design) is the process of designing digital products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with. This could be your mobile phone app, or a website but equally a smartwatch, your car entertainment system, or a medical device that you wear.
It focuses on the end user and how a person feels when interacting with a computer system - even when it doesn’t look like a computer. UX/Digital Product designers routinely work within software and digital development teams to maximising user satisfaction through user research, usability testing and iterative design. The programme equally equips you with the tools and skills to bring these ideas to life. You’ll learn rapid coding techniques to let you iterate quickly through your ideas and put them into the hands of users for real-world testing.
A combination of artistry and technical wizardry, UX designers are mainly concerned with how a product feels and flows. A given design problem has no single right answer and UX designers explore many different approaches to solving a specific user problem. They ensure that the product logically flows from one step to the next. One way that a UX designer might do this is by conducting in-person user tests to observe behaviour. They refine and tweak apps and software to create the "best" user experience – one that people like and find easy to use. UX designers also look at sub-systems. For example, they might study the checkout process of an ecommerce website to see whether users find the process of buying from the website easy and pleasant.
A recent UX student project led to success at the Google HackAccess event at Google’s Dublin offices. Darren and Shane were chosen to participate following a collaboration between the National Learning Network (NLN)/Rehab Group, and IT Sligo which led to the development of a smartphone app called ‘Persav’ to help disabled students to get to and from college.
UX has been identified recently in the SOLAS National Skills Bulletin 2017 as a skills shortage area. Large companies in particular see the need for skilled designers who can converse with software engineers to ensure the design is brought to life. Accenture announced plans recently to recruit 300 tech and design professionals, including 100 at The Dock, their “multidisciplinary research and incubation hub, where designers, doctors, visionaries and makers are doing things that matter for people, places and robots”.
UX is at the forefront of making technology accessible. We now no longer engage with tech at our desk or home-office - we wear it (FitBit), we play with it (Dell VR Visor - and yes, we have this), we monitor our health and exercise. And its helps with makeup choice and learning. As technology permeates everything we do, we need to know how best to enable us to use it - and to enjoy doing so. This is the essence of the ‘User Experience’.
On the flip side, poor UX can cost lives. For example, all too often we blame disasters on ‘human error’.
However, ‘to err is human’ and the role of a good UX designer is to know this and to ensure that the system design compensates for this. On Sept. 25, 2014, Eric Duncan reported to the emergency department of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas with a low-grade fever, abdominal pain, dizziness, and headaches. When he returned to the hospital on Sept. 30 and was diagnosed with Ebola, the question asked by nearly everyone paying attention was, "How could the doctors and nurses have missed the telltale signs of Ebola presenting in a man just returned from west Africa?". The finger of blame pointed to the complexity of the electronic healthcare system and the pressures placed on staff using it.
Jonathan Shariat, in his book Tragic Design tells a story of a young cancer patient he calls ‘Jenny’. She had been struggling with her disease for a long time when she started taking a new medication in a hospital. Her treatment was so aggressive, she required pre- and post-hydration for three days during medication periods. The nurses were responsible for entering all the required data into the medical software and, using this software, they followed up on her status.
Although they used the software diligently and cared for Jenny, somehow they missed the critical information about her three-day hydration requirements on the interface. The day after her treatment, she died of toxicity and dehydration. The experienced nurses made this critical error because they were too distracted trying to figure out the software interface.
In 2016, the death of Anton Yelchin shook the world. The 27-year-old actor known for playing Commander Chekov in the recent Star Trek movies was killed in an accident in his Los Angeles driveway. He was found crushed between his car, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the gate at the end of his driveway. It appears he had exited the car and walked behind it to close the gate, believing the transmission was in “Park”. Instead, it was actually in “Reverse” or “Neutral”, and the car rolled down his steep driveway, killing him. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled 1.1 million SUVs in response.
The tech industry know the value of good UX and the damage poor UX can do to their brand. Increasingly, products and services are differentiated on the basis of the ‘experience’ - that seemingly intangible chemistry we feel as we engage with an app or product for the first time. They will not get a second chance to make a first impression - UX is key to product success.
With this qualification you will work in software, product or process development teams helping to ensure that the form taken by the developers will engage and satisfy the customer. This skill is in high demand and typical graduate salaries: €28K-€38K (source: Sigmar, Brightwater, Morgan-McKinley). Look for any of these keywords on jobs boards: UX, UI, User Experience, Digital designer, interaction design, visual designer.
If you like what you’ve read and want to hear more, head to itsligo.ie/ccp or contact Adrian Durcan, Programme Chair for a chat.
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