Why I decided to go into UX Design
I studied Literature. And then I did a Masters in International Studies. But during my Literature degree, I also studied two minors: one in French language and culture and one in Social Psychology. I am not sharing my academic story out of total randomness, but because I think it says something about me: I like learning. Furthermore, I am interested in various different subjects and I can’t seem to decide myself. I have been working for almost ten years now, and during those years I’ve done many different things: from proofreader and translator to academic manager, to Spanish teacher.
So why UX Design now? Basically, because I think that UX condenses many of the skills I have acquired in the past years and many of my interests in one attractive and growing field (even after the Covid-19 pandemic). To be honest, however, I had heard many times in the past about UX and UX related terms like content strategy or design thinking and had never paid too much attention to it. Heck, we had even done some sort of UX in my company before and I knew that user experience was huge, but I had never really thought about what that meant or why it was important.
It wasn’t until early 2020 when I saw an ad for a course on UX and everything clicked.
What was going on in my life and why it matters for this story
In 2019 I had taken some online courses on online marketing and copywriting, as well as on how to use Canva to design websites and posts for social media. All of these courses had one main aim: to help me develop and strengthen certain skills that would be useful for my company. They were also a distraction, and deep down I was hoping that they could help me do a career change.
You see, I moved to a small town in the South of Germany from Colombia in 2017 to be with my now-husband, and things haven’t been so easy. Coming from the humanities field and moving to a mostly industrial and conservative town, my job opportunities were reduced, so I decided to teach Spanish. But after two years of teaching, the job started to feel limited and sometimes repetitive.
At the same time, with my husband, we decided that we wanted to move to Berlin where we thought we both would have more job opportunities and all the advantages that come with living in a big city. I started to dream of working in a company, maybe one of those startups that have gained Berlin the recognition of the Silicon Valley of Europe.
From teaching Spanish to programing?
But how could I get a job in one of those companies? How could I actively prepare myself to find a job there while still in the South? If I wanted to work in a company like that, I thought, I should gain some more practical knowledge about technology and the Internet, and that is why I took some courses on HTML and CSS and how to create websites from scratch. These courses were hard and exciting: it had been a long time since I got that feeling of fulfillment you get when you solve a problem. You know, that aha! moment. I was thrilled when I was able to find bugs and errors in my code that explained why something wasn’t working the way it was, and I was even happier when I was able to fix them.
As exciting as I found it though, I felt that coding wasn’t for me, and I knew that I didn’t want to do it as a full-time job. That was when I saw the ad I mentioned above about a UX course. I did some research on different academies, I asked around and finally decided to start my degree with the UX Design Institute. What I found in my research was that the field of UX was big, but it combined many fields and topics that I like, that I find interesting, and where I consider myself good at.
So, finally, why UX?
UX Design is, above all, a research-based discipline. Inquiring and talking to possible users is fundamental, and every project has different needs, questions, and problems to resolve, which makes it varied and changing. This, I think, is perfect for my curious mind: because I get to be learning all the time. But I also get to interact with different people, know their motivations, goals, and behaviors, which is something I learned about during my minor in Psychology at the university and that I always regretted not learning more about. And, even more, with some luck, I get to solve real problems and experience that thrill of coming up with a solution.
Although it is not the main concern of UX design, coding is certainly very important in this field, as whatever you design will then have to be developed. That is why having a basic understanding of the coding languages can be an advantage to be able to communicate more clearly with the developers and will make the design process run a bit more smoothly.
Even what I learned in my course about Canva could be useful for me in UX, because although UX and UI are separate disciplines, I believe that having a certain knowledge about some UI principles will help me, like with the coders, to communicate better and to be able to work in a team where everyone is understood and respected.
Moreover, UX is a field in which I can exercise another of my interests: writing and proofreading. I have been working as a proofreader since 2011, which means that I have been obsessing about language for nine years. Throughout these years, I have helped my clients to communicate what they want to say and to be more precise with their ideas, and I have improved many, many texts.
This is a topic that sometimes gets overlooked in UX, despite the fact that words are very important in the field. Writing precise and clear copy is fundamental to improve user experiences. Copy is everywhere on our websites and apps, and there is even a sub-field of UX that focuses exclusively on it: UX writing. I still have a lot to learn about it, of course, but I think that my previous knowledge has already given me a strong basis to continue on this path if I choose to.
I could dedicate myself to information architecture, another part of UX design that is related to contents and how to organize them to make them clearer and available for everyone. As you can see, I am still not sure of what I want to do, but I am certain that there are many opportunities for me to explore in the UX field.
Addendum: What about the sketching and prototyping parts of UX?
And I still haven’t touched on the subjects of sketching and prototyping, which are also a big part of UX. These areas have been interesting and complicated, and have really forced me out of my comfort zone; something that I expected, but that hasn’t been always easy.
However, I will talk in more detail about these topics in a later post dedicated solely to my experience developing these skills and what I have learned so far.