Why You Should Learn About User Experience
Published: January 23rd, 2023 by Hannah Nguyen
User Experience (or UX) might sound familiar to you if you’ve
done any job hunting lately. In fact, UX was named one of the
most in-demand hard skills by LinkedIn and ranked on
Top 50 Best Jobs to have in 2022. Libraries are no exception
to this trend with the job title User Experience Librarian being
named one of the
five library jobs on the rise by American Libraries
in June of 2022.
What is UX?
User Experience is a process for designing services or products that are useful, usable and pleasing. The process involves soliciting feedback from actual users during every phase of development and even periodically afterward. The method is often used in web or app development, and with the amount of web sites and apps available, it is easy to see why the skills are in such high demand. A career in UX is appealing to anyone interested in empathizing with users, eliminating obstacles, and making sure that services are accessible to everyone. The core tenets of information science have cross-over with UX principles, so you might be wondering what a career in this field might be like.
Here are some examples of common jobs in the field of UX and what kind of work they do:
Visual Designer: The role of a visual designer is somewhat self-explanatory, they are in charge of how the product or service looks. For example, if the product is a web app, they would design the layout, logo, icons, color scheme and fonts. The goal for visual designers is to create something that is visually appealing, exciting, and also accessible for people with disabilities.
- UX Researcher: Someone in this role would be involved in designing research questions and administering user surveys and interviews. They would analyze data to identify user problems, pain-points and shine a light on possible solutions. If your find yourself drawn to qualitative research or data analytics you may enjoy this work.
- UX Writer: This role is ideal for someone comfortable adapting their tone to be the “voice” of a product or service. They write to deliver information that is easy-to-understand and concise. They might decide what label each button should have on a web site or whether a word or phrase is causing confusion. They identify communication barriers and provide appropriate solutions. UX writers have important roles because language is constantly evolving, and they need to meet the communication needs of a diverse group of people.
- VR Designer: A Virtual Reality designer is in charge of optimizing the experience of engaging with a three-dimensional virtual world. Users are often completely submerged in a virtual environment with the outside world blocked out, so creating a safe and comfortable experience is crucial. VR Designers solve user problems related to motion, sound, lighting navigation, and much more. It is an exciting time for VR designers because they can be on the forefront of an emerging field.
UX for Everyone
User Experience isn’t just for UX professionals, or even just for web sites and apps. It can be used to optimize any aspect of your job that is intended for users, such as the layout, or signage in your workplace. You can (and probably should) put UX principles into effect in whatever role you are in. If you are tasked with redesigning, reorganizing or rethinking a product or service, you can save time and frustration by talking to users right away. You may be surprised at how big of a gap there is in the way people use something versus the way it is expected to be used.
Have you ever watched someone use a web site or device and been amazed by how differently they approach it? Have you ever read instructions that were filled with unfamiliar jargon or seemed to be out of order? Have you ever felt disoriented or unsure of how to complete a task online, or in person? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could see how much user experience affects how you view a service, and sometimes whether you would use it again.
So how can you get more involved in UX as an information professional? A great place for iSchool students to get involved is in the new UX Student Group! Visit their web site to join, apply for open leadership positions, or find out when their next event will be. Their website also highlights which classes in the program have user experience in the coursework. User experience is projected to grow exponentially and taking an elective now might put you ahead of the curve.
- UX Professionals Association
- UX Libs
- Lebson, Cory. The UX Careers Handbook, 2d ed. 300p. CRC Press, 2021. ISBN 9781032062709.
Two More Things!
Don’t forget to keep up to date with job openings on Handshake, here are a few that might be of interest!
- Youth Services Librarian – New Jersey (Recent MLIS grads encouraged to apply)
- Library Assistant – San Jose Public Library
- Part Time Systems Librarian – Atherton, CA (Remote)
Also, remember that internships can be an especially valuable part of your learning experience at the iSchool while also helping you when it comes time to look for jobs. Learn more about the iSchool’s internship program here, where you can check out the INFO 294 Student Handbook as well as the Internship Sites database.