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I have been talking with my Portfolio students from Austin Community College (ACC) about the struggles they have been experiencing after graduation. They have received a lot of feedback from interviews on the skills they are lacking. This is also a critique on the limits of a my community college program.  It’s not possible to fully prepare all of my students. I can at least point them in the direction of UX design resources that will help augment their learning.

Core elements of UX

The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter)
If you’re starting out, here is a great resource to get an overview of the UX design.

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide
This book helped launch my career. As the lone designer for a startup, I was responsible for the experience of the entire product. Leah Buley breaks down a project, activities, and possible artifacts you can work towards.

UX design resources for research

Just Enough Research
My mentor and creative director gave me this book, and she encouraged me to embrace research. Designers tend to shy away from research because of its academic stigma. However, I have since learned that the more involved I got with the research, the more informed my design decisions became. Erika Hall introduces designers to the concept of applying lean methodologies to research. Understand enough of the who, what and why. Then go make something.

Macro and Micro level interaction design

The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
Don Norman distills his perspective on designing for experience through the lens of objects we often overlook.

Microinteractions: Full Color Edition: Designing with Details
Dan Saffer came to Austin, TX to speak about this book at a local IxDA meetups. He outlined parts of his book that helped me think about the little interactions which guide users to easily complete tasks. Ultimately, the little nudges help lead to a more positive overall experience.

Visual design aesthetics

This area is light on solid publications. Not surprising it is an area where I found a lot of students struggling. The Web and publishing world offers plenty of UX design resources to help reinforce their analytical skills. It does not definitively explain how to link their decision making to the emotional aspects of visual design. How do their choices in color, type, layout, and motion affect how the users experience the application. The key is to develop their visual design aesthetics. Here are blogs and other resources that I rely on to sharpen my understanding of current trends.

Google Design
Learn about Google’s design philosophies and study the principles of Material Design.

Collect UI
This is comprehensive collection of modern UI patterns.

One of the longest running design blogs that (among other resources) offers a daily helping of design inspiration.

Quora post on how to build your sense of design aesthetic.

Design classes won’t be able to fully prepare students for ever changing UX industry. New designers are responsible for seeking out and learning new skills and concepts. I feel as teachers and mentors it is our responsibility to guide them. I have found these UX design resources to be valuable assets in my professional growth and worth passing on.

Interested in learning more about a recent students journey from rejection to hired, check out this post about Ravi Morbia’s experiences looking for his first UX design job.

Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.