(It’s a bad pun, I know, but bear with me)
If you’re a developer, at least a halfway decent developer, you’re constantly fighting the battle to stay frosty. A number of developers I know try to learn the basics of a different programming language on a yearly basis. I’m primarily a C# developer, and I’ve gone through this exercise with other languages like Ruby, Python, and, yes, even VB. I’ve found this useful as it forces you to abandon your normal thought processes and coding constructs to solve common problems. This has the benefit of helping you look at how you code in your primary language in a different, and often better, light.
With all of that said, the exercise of picking up a new language has become somewhat stale for me. I thought about contributing to some open source projects, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to really get out of my comfort zone and push myself to think in a completely different way. Then it hit me. I need to leave the code behind (once again, sorry for the pun). I need to try and understand the other part of software. You know, the stuff that users actually interact with. Yes UI, or as is more fashionable and accurate these days, UX. Now, I’ve created a number of UI’s in my day from WinForms, to WebForms, to WPF, to Silverlight, to Mobile, but I wouldn’t venture to say I’ve created a User Experience, or, at least, a really good User Experience.
As a end user of a lot of software, I know when I’m having a good user experience and when I’m not. What I want to know is how to create that good experience. So, I’ve tasked myself with the goal over the next three months of getting up to speed on User Experience. I have no expectations that at the end of three months I’ll be an expert in UX. My hope is to have a solid foundation in UX theory so that I can make better decisions in my day to day development where UX is concerned.
Here’s the list of resources I’m starting with:
- The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams
- Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell
- Designing Web Interfaces by Bill Scott & Theresa Neil
- Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donal A. Norman
(If you have additional suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments)
My plan is to blog interesting nuggets of info I come across in my studies. However, I also know I’m not the only developer in the boat when it comes to wanting to get a better understanding of UX, so I’ve given myself the added challenge of presenting my findings to the Twin Cities Silverlight User Group in April 2010. The goal is get other developers on the path to better UX development.