The time during my post graduate studies (2013-2016) was full of learning, experimentations, hacking and applying everything I learnt, into design. Smartphone adoption was about to explode here with the series of releases of Android versions. And with that also came cheap, affordable yet powerful phones in the market that were capable of almost everything a high-end smartphone would do. The popularity of apps and games and its download was huge compared to just a couple of years back.
App development as a university course and as a career started gaining momentum.
Me? What I was doing? Still designing.
In the early years of Android development, UI design wasn't much of focus beacause most of UI elements and blocks needed were used from within the SDK provided and most of the basic app of those days were similar in look and feel. The sliding drawer, the menu / tool bar etc.
Here I was tweaking shapes with Sketch. Sketch came as a saviour and also a light in my dark Photoshop / Illustrator world. Sketch was like a cute baby born when Photoshop and Illustrator got married. But modern, soft, light yet powerful.
After learning and using different layouts, UI blocks and components, easily exporting layouts to mobile and tablets and (fablets ...), testing ways in which user could use fingers to touch and tap blocks on the screen, it was then that I got sense of how I could improve the UX of a product through different hit and trials inside Sketch.
Now I identified myself as a UX designer. The third phase in my life my as designer.
But when I completed my Masters and came out in the real world, suddenly everyone out there I knew as a designer was a UX designer. Everyone including me as a UX Designer was doing basically UI Design with some aspects of UX. Not all.
After I came back to Nepal and joined a company here, things started to take shape. I understood clearly that it was neither UI design nor UX design that a real UX was all about. Or say, I figured out that a journey to great product wouldn't just simply with a UI or UX design. It really had to more with research.
Before jumping to design a prototype or doing some UX like wireframing and sketches, user reresearch methods is a must to do that are really great at producing data and insights, while ongoing activities help get the right things done.
My new role as a Creative Director of UX Design and Research
My main responsibility as a user-experience researcher is to communicate and collaborate with project managers and developers and as a designer with myself and provide insights and understanding on our users that we all can implement inside a design or product.
As a UX Researcher, the skills and mindsets needed are
curiosity, open mindedness and importantly good communication skills
Probably a quarter of the job resposibility would be communication so being introvert like in many research fields may not work properly. It is a must to brand yourself into this engaging communication link between the team that will lead to a good product design in the end.
I started engaging and communicating really well with the people around me and started building interest in things I needed to say and started feeling I could become a good researcher.
As one of the prominent figure in UX research said,
In research, it's really not enough to say here's a cool finding. Instead here's a cool finding and here's how to apply to the product which is going to improve your product. And make the connection strong.
The journey still continues.
And just like our Pale Blue Dot in the vast cosmic arena, I am just another insignificant speck on this vast universe of UX right now.