So, you want to enter the UX field

Thanks for reaching out to ask about the UX and technology fields.

We get excited when we are contacted by folks who are eager to learn about what we do. Because you’re proactively reaching out to us early, we thought we’d give you a little bit of inside information on what our industry is about and what we look for in candidates

Some books you may want to read

  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. Some say this is the book that started UX. It’s not technically about interface design, but it’s an important read. When you’re done with this book, read the rest of Norman’s stuff
  • The Design Way by Erik Stolterman and Harold Nelson. A reflection on design as a human activity. This covers the gamut: design thinking, ethics, and heuristics to support design practice
  • User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley
  • Technology As Experience by McCarthy and Wright. An academic, research-supported take on how to think and talk about human experience
  • Art as Experience by John Dewey. Heavily philosophical, but gets at the heart of a lot of our industry’s modern assumptions
  • The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. You’re excused from reading the second half of the book, which gets a bit heavy into the computer science part of things, but the rest is a great treatise on what makes design… design. The author uses his designing and building of his own home as a framework to help explain the process
  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. Another good book that helped inform the industry
  • The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper. This book takes a little bit of a hard line against software engineering, but establishes another baseline for UX as a profession
  • Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro. Designers aren’t special. We’re humans working a job like everyone else. Design being a job means there are parts we like and parts we’d rather avoid Monteiro does us a favor by talking about the parts that aren’t so glamorous, but are essential to career success
  • A Book Apart is a publishing group that focuses on design, content, and technology. Their collection often changes. Their content is always solid

 

Some articles and resources you may want to check out

  • What Is a Designer? – it’s important to get into the right state of mind regarding design in general
  • Enterprise Software Design: A Call to Arms – this article references how we approach what is often referred to as “complex system design”
  • Just Enough Research – we do a lot of research, some of it formal, some more casual. Regardless, we want to define the problem and get outside of our heads. This video on “Just Enough Research” describes the value and purpose of asking “why?” and how to create a research plan that’s proportionate to your needs
  • 134: Chief Jobs Officer (The Critical Path) – if you want to explore a specific research technique related to “Jobs to be Done” thinking, this podcast episode provides a great overview
  • What Screens Want – in conjunction with that, digital design is a distinct medium that requires a unique way of thinking and applying universal design principles. Here’s a classic on approaching digital design
  • Device-Agnostic – we also need to consider how our work is going to be experienced in an unfathomable number of circumstances, hence the need for responsive design
  • Atomic Classification – we’ve done deep thinking about how to create extensible design languages that can grow and flex over time. This short article sums up the atomic design approach well
  • 13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations – once you’ve created your masterpiece, you need to sell that idea to others. This piece is a great primer on presenting design ideas
  • Laws of UX – a survey and explanation of some of the principles that interface designers tend to follow
  • Maedastudio – the work of designer, educator, and author John Maeda
  • ADPList – a platform that helps people find, book, and meet mentors around the world
  • Get Interviewed – a podcast by Thinker Joe Pascavage, who interviews individuals in the creative industry to level up their voices and share their stories
  • Think Company’s YouTube Channel – we started recording and sharing webinars, interviews, and insights on the industry in 2020 and plan to continue doing that into the future

Tools we use

Before you dig deep into tools, it’s important to note that the tools used by designers change often. You should maintain the perspective that tools can and will change, but your ability to stay organized within a tool, and to collaborate with others, is the real skill you should master. However, you will be expected to have some level of proficiency in one or many of these tools:

  • Abstract – a tool for collaborating, sharing, and managing design assets
  • Adobe Xd – Adobe’s interface design, prototyping, and collaboration platform
  • Figma – an interface design, prototyping, and collaboration platform
  • Invision – a prototyping tool
  • Miro – a collaboration and whiteboard tool
  • Mural – a collaboration and whiteboard tool
  • Sketch – an interface design tool

Meetups and professional organizations in the Philadelphia area

The global pandemic has shifted how we meet and collaborate. While Think Company is a company based in Philadelphia, much of our networking was local prior to 2020. While many of these organization are local to Philly, they still produce great content, regardless of where you live:

If you need to learn a little more, look at local programs or try a bootcamp

Universities and colleges

  • In Philadelphia: Temple University, Drexel University, and Jefferson University all have Digital Design / UX programs you can look into
  • Outside of Philadelphia: Many universities across the world offer UX and Design coursework under several different models. For example, the Stanford D. School allows students to get design certifications attached to their traditional degrees.
  • To find a program that works for you – look through a school’s curriculum for UX and Design courses that focus on human-centered design. These programs may be part of a larger program in:
    • Fine Art / Graphic Design
    • Arts and Sciences / Liberal Arts
    • Computer Science / Information Systems
    • Industrial Design / Architecture

 

Bootcamps and other certification programs

Many people attend bootcamps or certification programs to pick up skills, work with tools, and gain practical knowledge about the industry. A few we are aware of include:

Think Company articles about UX and technology careers

We write a lot about the topic of careers in UX and Technology. All of our Career-based articles are tagged at our career wisdom link.

But for a few of our highlights:

 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the UX industry

We have collected the following links to help people learn more about diversity and inclusion in the world of design

History of Black designers, developers, and tech professionals

 

Organizations, meetup groups, and communities by Black leaders, designers, developers, and writers

 

Black voices in design and technology

What we're really looking for, and how we find it

There is so much talent out there, it’s hard for a candidate to float to the top. Here are some things you can do to help us understand your capabilities at Think Company.

Pick up at least a little project experience. We like to hire people with at least a little bit of experience working with clients and on teams in a project setting. There are many ways to pick that up. If you haven’t had that yet, there are many things you can do: Take a capstone class in school, sign up for an internship, attend some of the meetups above to find a volunteer project, start your own company, or enroll in a certification program. Many folks get entry-level positions at one of the larger corporations in the area, then bounce over to us once they’ve built up a portfolio. Speaking of which…

Compile a portfolio of your work. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a position as a visual designer, experience designer, researcher, or developer, we need to be able to see what you can do. This can be as simple as a collection of images, a case study for one of your projects, or code samples on GitHub. You don’t need to know how to code, many portfolios are created on web design platforms such as Squarespace or Wix. If everything you have is proprietary, tell us that and offer to walk through a deck that you cannot leave behind. We’ll understand.

Submit a cover letter with your resume. Yes, we read cover letters. It shows us how you communicate. If you think the job you’re applying for doesn’t need communication skills, this is probably not the place for you. If you don’t submit a cover letter, your likelihood of being considered drops dramatically.

Get to know us. Follow our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn), attend events in our space (we’ll announce these events on social media!), attend events around the city, and introduce yourself to us when you see us out and about. The design community in Philadelphia is small. We’re all great people and like to get to know folks from all walks of life.

Finally, if you would like to be considered for a position, keep an eye on thinkcompany.com/careers and send us your info.

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