🦆 Interaction Nerds by UXA
This week from Archive & Collection: Flavors of HCI event recap, UX designers in different companies, why should designers learn psychology, and cognitive biases in UX design & research
👋 Announcements — Happy Spring Semester from Archive & Collection!
Happy New Year 🎆 & Happy Spring Semester 🍃 & Happy Lunar New Year 🐇 to everyone!! We hope you’ve had a good first week - here at UXA we’ve dived in and are preparing all kinds of great events & newsletters for y’all. 🥂
In November, UXA held Flavors of HCI where we invited researchers from 4 areas in HCI: Technical Studies & Accessibility, Human-AI Interaction, Social Studies, and Critical/Cultural Approaches! 🤩
The speakers spoke about their research and insights to uncover the different topics, focuses, and “flavors” in the HCI area. There were a lot of insightful discussions going on, and we compiled documentation for each panel—check them out! 😎
We would also like to welcome Arin Pantja, a sophomore in Fine Arts & HCI, to our Content Team! Arin will be working on the Investigation & Connection, so look out for some great content from a fresh perspective.
🍀 Industry — How to Evaluate UX Jobs at Agencies, Startups & Big Companies
“UX designer”—what does it mean? Well, when it comes to internships or jobs, it can mean a thousand different things. The job title encompasses a vast range of skills, so being a UX designer varies greatly from company to company. This article provides an in-depth comparison of what being a UX designer is like at agencies, startups, and corporate companies.
🌻 To Summarize: (definitions are as used in this article)
agency: a company that lands contracts with clients, then assigns or hires the right talent to complete those contracts.
low to mid skill specialization
wide range of projects
startup: a small company in the initial stages of operations, typically founded by an entrepreneur who wants to develop a product or service for which they believe there is demand.
rather than specializing, you’ll probably be more of a UX generalist 🛠️
spend the entire time working on ONE product → make sure you’re passionate about it!
most startups fail… don’t be looking for high job security here 😨
corporate: large, mature companies with an existing UX practice & (hopefully) budget for more UX research & testing.
bigger & more specialized teams (unless the company has only just heard of UX)
emails. meetings. emails. meetings. You’ll spend a LOT of time on communication 📫
🌾 Opinion — Why Psychology Needs to be Taught at Design School
As designers, we constantly throw around the word “users.” Yet we need to remember that we’re not designing for rational & logical “users”—we’re designing for irrational & emotional humans.
Psychology is often viewed as a nice add-on to your design process, but in reality, it should form the core of every design decision you make. You might think, “Oh, I’m a human. Of course I know how humans think!” But even for yourself, the person you think you know best, the way you think undermines your ability to understand how you think.
This article argues that because psychology is not intuitive, designers need to actively learn psychology, otherwise, we’ll get sucked into a confirmation bias vortex and never see beyond our own flawed beliefs.
🌻 5 aspects of psychology every designer needs to understand
behavior & emotions: to design for humans, we need to understand what motivates us and influences our decisions & behavior.
memory: human memory is optimized for an environment of foraging and hunting, not tabs, cursors, and buttons. Understanding how memory works is crucial for reducing cognitive loads and increasing efficiency.
language: language has multiple layers of meaning - by understanding how we process language, you can deliver informative & emotional information simultaneously.
visceral influences on brain & behavior: humans have specific visceral reactions coded into our DNA that are fairly consistent across all cultures, genders, and demographics, which designers can leverage.
empathy: we all have innate biases, so to design for others, we need to consciously put aside our experiences, culture, and opinions.
🪴 Skill — 10 Cognitive Biases to Watch Out for in UX Research & Design
A core part of understanding human psychology is recognizing the biases in both users and ourselves. The best way to counter cognitive biases is to learn about them and watch for specific signals. Here are a few to watch out for in daily life & design practice!
📚 Curse of Knowledge: when a person assumes that other people have the same level of knowledge about a subject they do.
Before interviews, take a moment and ask yourself, “how much does this person know about X? What language would they best understand?”
✅ Confirmation Bias: humans tend to select for evidence that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore anything that contradicts them.
Make a conscious effort to search for information counter to your beliefs!
🦜 Interview Bias: when interviewing, we often subconsciously frame questions in ways that influence interviewees to answer in the way we want them to.
Write out your questions beforehand and double check if they have narrow or broad interpretations.
🎆 Fun - Random Cool Things!
🤔 Who’s behind the scenes?
Thanks for reading this week’s Interaction Nerds by CMU UXA! The editors behind this work are Alana Wu, Sean Shen, and Rebecca Jiang.
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