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The Starter Pack: UX Edition

Written By Sapphire Reels on Jan 16, 2015 11:16:00 AM

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Let’s face the facts – creating websites is hard work. From planning and content strategy to the visual design and back-end development, there are several moving parts that have to work together to form a collective whole. The very nature of the process hinges on fluid collaboration and communication.

The first step in communicating is having a foundational understanding of where your counterparts are coming from. As a visual designer, one of the most important functional areas to work with is the user experience designers. To create an effective and engaging website, you have to keep your customer’s experience in mind. Your site can offer the best aesthetic design, but without a seamless user experience, your beautiful site will fall on deaf ears.

Whether or not you are interested in a career in UX design, it is important to understand the basics to funnel these ideas back into your websites design. Look no further than the Healthcare.gov mishap to understand the profound effect of a poor user experience on a company’s reputation. Healthcare.gov users could not compare costs of plans without setting up an account; once they tried to set up an account, they faced numerous troubles. Politics aside, 56% of Americans saw the website problems as an indication of a broader problem with the Affordable Care Act, according to a poll by The Washington Post.

While simply incorporating user experience sounds great in theory, learning the basics of user experience design can be intimidating. But fear not - there are a plethora of tools and resources available online to help you in your efforts.

This post will introduce you to a variety of resources designed to give you a crash course in UX design and set you on the path to creating websites that are easier to use and keep customers coming back.

 

E-books:

These e-books will give you an all-encompassing view of UX design from experts who are actively working in the industry. Although they are lengthy, they truly reveal the in-and-outs of the entire UX process.

1. “Web UI Design Best Practices” from UXPin

UXPin, a product design platform for interactive wireframing and prototyping, created this 109 page e-book, which presents you the knowledge to learn the theory and practice of web UI design from industry experts. This comprehensive guide includes in-depth explanations of everything from techniques in design to incorporating UI elements like color and typography, backed by analysis of UI design from top companies. Enjoy this e-book? Check out UXPin’s other e-books, which deliver knowledge from various areas of UX design.

2. "50 User Experience Best Practices" by Above the Fold

This e-book, created by Above the Fold, a Boston-based interactive agency, kicks off with simple ideas on how to get you thinking like a user experience designer. Including tips and tricks geared towards all audiences (from copywriters to developers), Above the Fold’s best practices encompass everything from user research to content strategy.

3. UX Storytellers: Connecting the Dots

While this e-book does not teach the principles of ux, it does offer stories from ux design professionals. With stories ranging how the designer got into ux and what they learned from projects, you may find that you are further on your track to understanding UX than you thought.

 

Websites:

Like most designers, finding the time in your day to digest a lengthy e-book is nearly impossible. Shorter form content, like the following websites or articles, may be prove more valuable in your UX journey.

1. UX Apprentice

This resource covers some of the basics of UX, while providing references to books and articles for deeper dives. By taking you through the stages of Discovery, Strategy, and Design, this easy to navigate website provides real world examples and tests you along the way.

2. 52 Weeks of UX

When learning user experience design, using a resource with a great UI design is critical. Not only will it be easier for you to consume the content, you will see theories in practice. 52 Weeks of UX delivers just that. As the brainchild of former HubSpotter Joshua Porter and Joshua Brewer, 52 Weeks is a premier blog that discusses insights into better UX design practices. Recorded over the course of one year, you can expect advice on topics ranging from what simplicity in design really means all the way to understanding the difference between user and maker. As a bonus, check out this great blog post: Principles of User Interface Design, also by Joshua Porter.

3. UX Crash Course: 31 Fundametals

Designed to get you from “zero-to-hero as quickly as possible,” this website by Joel Marsh, author of The Hipper Element blog, is perfect for those want to learn over an extended period of time. With 31 lessons, this particular resource is ordered to reflect a real-life UX process. Each lesson has it’s own page, so feel free to bookmark those that resonate most.

 

Aggregated Articles:

Just can’t get enough? These posts introduce an aggregated list of the best articles related to learning UX design.

1. So you wanna be a user experience designer?

Although this post is from 2009, the ideas presented in each article still stand tried and true. With a list of UX books, webinars, mailing lists, and organizations, Whitney covers all learning styles to provide you a medium that works best for you. This post is a part of a series; make sure to check out the second post with the author’s guiding principles for user experience design.

2. User Experience Design from A-Z

If you’ve never used Gibbon before, now’s the time to start. Gibbon provides curated “playlists” of content from around the web. This specific playlist, curated by the site’s Cofounder Wouter de Bres, compiles just shy of 100 web resources poised to educate you on UX.

3. 16 Must-Read Articles for the UX Newbie

Extremely pressed for time? No matter – User Testing’s blog has you covered. This post highlights 16 “quick-and-dirty” resources that will promise to expose you to UX, UI, and usability in a little over an hour.

 

Bonus - App:

1. UX Companion

UX Companion functions as a glossary of (UX) theories, tools and principles for over 50 topics. Each definition links to a free and informative article written by the app creators at Cyberduck, an award-winning digital agency. Take it on the go and you’ll be talking shop in no time.

 

Sound off: let us know some of your favorite resources for beginner's user experience design in the comments!

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Sapphire Reels

Sapphire is a Northeastern University Alum and a product marketer at HubSpot. By day, she enjoys dabbling in graphic design and storytelling. By night, you can find her watching mockumentaries or being a foodie.

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