Alternative jobs relevant to UX research and design

8 Apr 2010 - 4:33pm
4 years ago
8 replies
2173 reads
jknation
2010

I was fairly intrigued by this little bit burried in a thread about the lack of employment opportunities for junior UX folk.

"Along with that, I would encourage you to broaden your search beyond pure UX roles. BA roles, product manager roles and other roles in technology, experience delivery, or an industry of interest can be a great platform of experience on which to biuild a career."

I'm curious if anybody can expand on this. A few specific questions to get the ball rolling:

  • -What is a BA? What is experience delivery?
  • -Are there any other specific job types that might help out for future prospects in a "pure UX role"?
  • -Does anybody have first hand knowledge of somebody sucessfully shifting from one of these roles into something more UX focused?

 

Some info on me in case it helps with discussing the possibiities. I have a software development background, and recently completed a masters in computer science with an HCI focus. I would ideally be working in a job that balances user research and high level design work (ie story boards, wireframes). I have no skills or interest in doing any graphical design.

Cheers!

Comments

8 Apr 2010 - 5:31pm
Melissa Casburn
2008

BA = Business Analyst, and I used to be one... along with being a Business Consultant, Project Manager, Program Manager, and Instructional Designer before "officially" entering the UX field. That's not to say that I was ignorant of the field beforehand; on the contrary, I was as opportunistic as possible about getting my hands dirty, regardless of my title. But it took me years to actually get a titled position.

And while that was a drag in some respects, it's fantastic in others because I'm extremely well-rounded and I bring a broad perspective to my work. UX is inherently interdisciplinary; I don't think it's a cop-out to say that skills from any field can be brought to bear on your work in UX. 

It's important to note, as well, that titles aren't consistently used from company to company -- it's great that you have a handle on what type of work you want to do (user research and high level design work, no graphic design) because you can look for those activities, or related activities, within various job titles. I crossed over as an "Information Architect", and now I'm the "Director of User Experience", and I changed my team's titles to "User Experience Architect". I will NOT rehash the many, many debates this list has hosted re: what those titles could/would/should mean in practice but suffice to say, it's no different in other fields.

8 Apr 2010 - 7:20pm
Helen Killingbeck
2005

BA is often interchanged with BSA.  BA being a Business Analyst and BSA being a Business Systems Analyst.  One of the eternal questions that I have been asked and provided consulting on is where the "Usability" or "UX" role should sit within the organization ...IT or Business.

  I shifted....from first having a background in Business with educational studies in Psychology...to Web Development and Project Management...and from there I realized that I had a passion for combining psychology and user interface design.

  What I have seen over the past ten years in my geographic location and sector is the recognition of how important a role UX is ...the role was first accepted by the "business" areas because of the focus on the client facing user interfaces.  However I am now seeing a real shift in actually focusing on user interfaces used by employees...where productivity and knowledge based information presentation is now being realized as important when attracting and retaining high performing staff.

  Helen  

  On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM, jknation <jknation@live.com> wrote:

* -What is a BA? What is experience delivery?
* -Are there any other specific job types that might help out for future
 prospects in a "pure UX role"?
* -Does anybody have first hand knowledge of somebody sucessfully shifting
 from one of these roles into something more UX focused?

 

Some info on me in case it helps with discussing the possibiities. I have a software development background, and recently completed a masters in computer science with an HCI focus. I would ideally be working in a job that balances user research and high level design work (ie story boards, wireframes). I have no skills or interest in doing any graphical design.

Cheers!

(((Please l
9 Apr 2010 - 1:08am
rajesh
2010

Well said Helen, you have given a very good explanation.

Raj

9 Apr 2010 - 9:27am
smorrow
2010

Hello.   I can relate to Melissa's experience.  My experience (BA/PM)  has largely been in banking IT where a BA or Product Manager  is a subject matter expert for a product, set of products (equities, derivatives, foreign exchange, etc) or process (back office operations, trade processing, compliance, business continuity, etc)  The BA, along with Project/Product Manager liaise with and advocate for the end users.   These roles also produce documentation - functional specs, business requirements, wireframes, UAT test plans, and overall project plan (for the latter two roles).  I have gained broad experience in this environment building mission-critical apps, where timeframes tend to be condensed and RAD is the order of the day. Project team members wear many hats especially BA's and PM's. To really drive a project to successful conclusion is it essential you understand the business, the product nuts and bolts, and be astute technically.

As someone transitioning industries, I have come to understand what Melissa stated so well in earlier post - that "titles are not used consistently" and you have to examine what the role actually requires.

11 Apr 2010 - 9:49am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

I'm not a BA myself but at a recent job, one of the IxD's was formerly a BA. In that place, I contributed towards both the vision document and business requirements by doing research before the vision was completed and design (high level and detailed) which contributed towards shaping the business requirements. It was tricky to get everything co-ordinated but it is possible with lots of co-operation with the BA.

11 Apr 2010 - 9:50pm
sreeramen ramaswamy
2008

hello Folks,

This discussion is interesting because, I started my career as a usability consultant realizing the limitations of the role and the possible detractors to knowledge growth given it being a very specialized and narrow role it can play. You were never assured that your recommendations ever go out into the market.

Post that I did roles of establishing user experience in product development firms. The important learning that happened in a product development role engaging from the day one is how to work with different teams, understanding how usability fits into product development life cycle, and what activities and deliverables feed into the different stages, and how to influence product teams to understand the consumer/end user.

Then I had the opportunity to enter the role of a product manager. This provided and understanding of how products always have scope creeps, and enhancements, since business is changing fast. All this affects the product and also allied stuff that you may do in terms of customer acquisition. For example, what would the social networking strategy be for customer persuasion, acquisition and retention. Is there a integrated channel strategy, if so then how to leverage mobile phones.

A small change that we may recommend for usability enhancement may mean rewriting code and may destabilize the build. So how can this be strategically handled. What are the alternatives to achieve the same result in the current phase and do the rest in the following phase.

I guess the transition to a UX research and design role needs to happen with this sort of exposure and understanding. Otherwise the contribution can be somewhat limited. In the best scenario, if you have a program manager who is adequately aware and realizes the importance of UX then the collaboration and exchange between UX research and various other roles in the product development team becomes easier.

Regards, sreeramen

On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM, Alan James Salmoni wrote: > I'm not a BA myself but at a recent job, one of the IxD's was formerly a BA. > In that place, I contributed towards both the vision document and business > requirements by doing research before the vision was completed and design > (high level and detailed) which contributed towards shaping the business > requirements. It was tricky to get everything co-ordinated but it is > possible with lots of co-operation with the BA. > >

11 Apr 2010 - 10:44pm
bminihan
2007

I have transitioned in and out of UX roles several times, from several different angles (PM, developer, graphic designer, CTO, etc), and the best advice I can give if you're interested in turning your role into a user experience researcher (non-graphical) is this:

Develop an ear for the little questions that all of your team members constantly ask, but no one ever seems to know how to answer.

For example:

Developer:  Why are we building this feature?  Who's going to use it?

Project Manager:  I don't know which fields should go on the page, so just add all of them.  Maybe someone will need them all.

Business Sponsor:  Everyone knows that links ALWAYS have to be underlined.

Marketing:  Can we change the font to 8 pixels?  I need more room for ads.

Architect:  Flex is the only way to implement that design.

User research can help answer all of the above.  You just have to be interested enough to distill each into the appropriate experiment (study, card sort, survey, review, etc) and deliver results to the right people at the right time, in a digestible format.

Bryan

13 Apr 2010 - 1:19am
thepofo
2010

I started out as a Designer, moved to Development, then to Project Management (and Functional analyst), afterwards to Development team coordinator and now back to UX architect.

I believe that when working in all different domains it has given me a lot of experience in the different views of people (and roles) on a project or product

As a UX person you need to be aware of all these little facets, but meanly keep in mind what's the best for the key user.

Eric

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