Where am I in UX?

- 3 February 2011

I have no clue.

This thought was motivated by an article on UX specialization by Elisabeth Hubert, a professional UX consultant. I know that I want to be involved in this field, but I don’t know exactly how. I want to enhance people’s lives by improving their experience with the products they use. I care about people and their happiness, especially their relationship with technology. Therefore, I think, and believe, UX is the perfect path for my career.

My first exposure was about a year ago, but I only started getting serious with this study about few months ago. I told people my passion is in UX and gave them a brief explanation of what it is and its importance. Unfortunately, as my study progressed, I felt like I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

There are numerous titles within this field: Interaction Designer (IxD), Information Architect (IA), Content Strategist, Usability Expert, and User Researcher. I’m most likely leaving some out, but that’s just because I haven’t discovered them yet.

I was overwhelmed.

In the beginning, I misunderstood a UX designer as a highly specialized profession, just like a ‘system administrator’; not as a generalized classification of a field, just like ‘business’. It gave me the notion that I have to be skillful in the numerous areas to be a decent UX practitioner. Then, I felt even worse not knowing the other skill sets.

I panicked. (Aaaah!)

Well, calm the fuck down, Tri. Eventually, I realize I am new at this. I am not expected to be highly knowledgeable in these matters, yet. Being exposed to the different aspects of UX is the best thing I could do in my situation. There is no need to pigeon hole myself this early in the game. I understand these questionable thoughts and feelings are expected of anyone in my position and circumstances, but now I’m optimistic. Very optimistic.

I’m in a fresh field as a very fresh practitioner. There are still many debates and discussions of the rights and wrongs or what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been accustomed to the predetermined path mindset, but this is a pathless frontier. This is finally my opportunity to be in the forefront of an important movement. It would be foolish for me to not seize the potentially monumental path of my life.

The UX community is very passionate in what they do. To me, more so than most professions than I’ve seen. They care about the health of UX community and they’ll do anything to keep it healthy (most likely blog or tweet about their concerns and perspectives, just like this post!). I’m not disregarding the passionate people in other fields, but UX is a unique case. From what I’ve gathered, there is an inherent personality trait in all UX practitioners, to care deeply for something or someone. The concept of empathy is repeated over and over, and this can be seen in the nature of our work. Our empathy far extends our projects; we care for everybody, including the UX community.

"Ah, this is a good place to be" I thought.

Things are shaping up, and the graph looks like an arrow shooting at the moon. I’ll be in the trailing winds and learning from the best. One day, I’ll shoot my own arrow and make it to Mars. Until then, I’ll read my eyes out, communicate my tongue out, design my fingers off, think my brain into oblivion, and party my balls off.