Many of you have asked what I study in college, so I wanted to create this post to explain what it is, and why it is so important for businesses all shapes and sizes!
I study Experience Architecture, or better known as, User Experience (UX). What I do comes down to this: I take business’ user-interfaces, whether that be an app, website, etc., and conduct user research to understand what their users really want out of the website, and then with that information, I am able to design the interface to make it the most accessible and usable it can be for the user.
It involves getting into the users’ heads, taking time to create mockups of possible website/app interfaces, creating focus groups for beta testing, and then finally: implementation!
It is an interdisciplinary field that has to do with design, business, psychology, and coding. I realize that sounds like a lot! But that’s why I chose that major: I love people. I love art. I love technology. This degree incorporates all three of those things — the things I’m most passionate about, into one cohesive, innovative field.
Let’s Break It Down
So what does that mean? Basically, “usability” translates to having user friendly aspects. Where you can go onto a website or an app and easily understand how to navigate it. You have to be able to understand what the consumer wants, as well as how and why they want it to be able to deliver a usable site. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an organization that sets the standards for the internet, to make sure websites are usable and accesbile for all people and all web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Mozilla) and they break down what “usable” means really well. You can read their explanation here.
“Accessible” means that all people from all over the world, of all abilities, backgrounds, education levels, etc. can use it. The most common example, is the importance of describing your images on your website, so people who use screen readers, for example, can hear the description of the picture, since they may have trouble actually viewing it. Thankfully, WordPress makes this easy to do. All you have to do is when uploading a picture onto a blog post, fill out the box labeled “Alt Text.” This ensures all of your readers can have a good experience on your website.
Good usability and accessibly, in tandem, can create a great user experience.
Psychology & People
People are complex beings and figuring out what and why they think is a big challenge, heck, that’s why the whole field of psychology exists! However, it’s a big problem for businesses, especially when they’re trying to communicate with customers through an interface (which is literally all the time) such as a website or an app. So now you can understand how big of an issue it is when users have a hard time navigating a business’ website, and thats why user experience (UX) exists. UX research is the side of UX where we have to create focus groups, send out surveys, really do anything we can to understand our users and make sure they’re getting what they need the way that is best for them.
User Experience designers and researchers work together with project managers, programmers, marketing teams, etc., to create seamless, user-friendly interfaces.
Last year in one of my college classes, I actually made an infographic that explained the two main sides… design and technology! Here it is below:
UX & Business
Businesses, on every level, need to incorporate UX strategies at every step. Whether you’re at Ford Motor Co. manufacturing a brand new car or a small start-up creating the next best skincare, what ever it is, it is imperative to think in a UX way. What I mean is: step into the shoes of your customers/users. What do they need? What are they asking for? If you can’t answer those questions, I would suggest hosting a focus group. Literally asking your customers what they want will be so beneficial for your business. Not only will it ensure that your customers know that you care about them, but it will also help create long lasting customers and clients.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of what I study in college and the importance of it. At my school, my major is technically called “Experience Architecture” (you can read about what they say about my major here) and I always have to explain to everyone how I’m not your typical architect! I am not designing buildings or homes (even though UX could definitely play a part here!) but rather, I’m an architect of experiences. In the future, I hope to be the designer of your best experiences.
Until next time,