I picked up this book soon after I was hired here at User Insight, per a colleague’s recommendation. I’d been hired here at Ui in a focused user experience strategist role but my background is in industrial design. So, I knew that I need a brush up on UX terminology and concepts. This book hit the mark! I highly recommend it for anyone making a transition or starting in a new UX role.
A Project Guide to UX Design (referred to hereafter as UX Design) is an excellent resource for the new UX professional. It contains a broad but succinct overview of the field’s scope and goals, as well as a clear walkthrough of the design process as it relates to User Experience. The materials presented in UX Design lay out the process in a way that is clear and useful for a single ‘UI guy’ working within a bigger organization that wants to expand his skill set or a multi-functional team at a full-service User Experience consultancy. Having come from an adjacent industry myself, I found it to be a solid resource to transition my mode of thought out of that industry (Industrial Design) and into the vocabulary, best practices, and nuances of User Experience.
The book is comprised of several key sections that outline the project lifecycle; while the book divides up the sections chronologically within a project, I found that the main subjects the book covered fell into the following categories:
From the simple question of “What is UX?” to “A Brief Guide to Meetings” this book covers a wide breadth of topics that help round out the responsibilities that might be tackled by a UX designer – whether they are the single UX professional in the company or one member of a specialized team.
The Corporate Landscape
Whether the politics are internal or external this work inevitably involves people and how they think and interact. It’s important to learn how to navigate the client-side issues with professional aplomb so that the project can run as successfully and smoothly as possible. Topics that fall under this umbrella include information about basic project management, and investigating the business requirements of the client.
Much like the client side of the equation, Users require professional handling and consideration – whether they are 30-50 year old urban professionals or 37-year-old nuns who hike on the weekend. Since this is really the main focus of UX, there is a great deal of solid information presented about the background research and execution of UX design, from evaluating stakeholders and developing personas all the way to wireframing and search engine optimization. While this book is certainly not comprehensive on these subjects, it does provide solid overviews of the subjects and presents the information in a way that makes it easy to learn more.
The Meta (Book Design and Layout)
UX Design is easy to read, and contains a very cool feature in the sidebars: it contains several references for further information on the subject matter which are divided up into different categories based on the depth of the source. For instance, some of the sources are short articles that would only take 10 minutes to read, while other sources are lengthy books or in-depth studies around the subject matter. I like this feature, since it allows you to prioritize your exploration of the content. This book also contains some nice, clear charts and matrices that condense the subject matter into concise, memorable bites – there are a few I would like to print out and place permanently at my desk.
While experienced UX’ers would probably find the book elementary, the beginning UX professional or one who is moving into a different role than they had previously experienced can find this book to be very useful. It really does focus on the core aspects of what a UX professional might end up doing, and I’ve found myself going to it as a practical reference on more than one occasion when I’ve been tasked with new material. I think that it would be a good read for a young designer or refresher for a more established one, and as the book is relatively brief (288 pages) and easy to digest it can be completed on a lazy weekend or on a flight.