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Why I chose to study User Experience Design

Meet Jason Brown. Before joining his course at NUA, Jason worked in IT support but wanted to combine his skills in graphic design and IT. Since joining Norwich University of the Arts, he has interned with local User Experience (UX) agency The User Story and Earthware Digital Solutions. He is Technical Coordinator at Storehouse Magazine, designing VR prototypes and digital versions of magazines. Jason shares his story on why he picked to study BSc User Experience (UX) Design.

My path to User Experience Design

In 2016 I had just started working as an IT technician in local schools, but I wanted to be stretched and do something more exciting. I also wanted to do something that would help take me into a job on the ‘front-line’ of technology, rather than another job in IT support which was the only place that my job was ever going to take me.

I studied A level Graphic Communication and A level Computer Science at school, enjoying the creativity of graphic communication and the coding aspect of computer science but not really enjoying all of the technical and maths elements of computer science.

I decided that if I were to pursue a degree then something creative was more for me. Initially I had attended the open day wanting to find out more about BA (Hons) Graphic Communication. Upon arriving I spoke to Sebastian Owen (Employability Adviser) and he advised me of NUA’s BSc courses. The courses seemed like a perfect mix between my creativity and my interests in coding and technology.

Exploring my options

I attended the Open Day talk for BSc User Experience Design and was sold from the moment that the tutor began talking about it. Even better, it was described as a technical course that didn’t require you to do complex maths!

I applied and before I knew it I had an interview, left my job working in IT support and was now studying a course designed to prepare me for an industry that has all eyes on it.

What is User Experience Design?

“It is all about putting the user at the centre of design – designing software, interfaces and experiences that mean that the user can achieve what they need to be able to. “

At the same time helping businesses meet their goals and save costs by not designing digital experiences twice and not losing customers in poor experiences.

It is a creative and technical course that involves:

  • Conducting research
  • Designing software interfaces
  • Considering the organisation and hierarchy of content
  • Conducting user testing
  • Driving meaning from data to learn how to improve the next version of your work.

So far, the course content has been varied – everything from coding websites, learning about website analytics and interpreting user behaviour to even creating websites for real businesses in Year 1.

In Year 2 we have learned more about the psychology of design and why designers make the decisions that they do. We have just completed the first phase of a project for the Broads Authority about encouraging people in Norfolk and Suffolk to visit the Broads using technology.

Internships and work placements

I undertook an internship at Earthware over the summer of 2018 where I designed, built and tested a chatbot designed to help cancer patients. Then, between October 2018 and January 2019, I was lucky enough to gain work experience at local UX agency The User Story.

With my work placements, course content and NUA industry links, I feel as students we are sought after by employers who are looking for experience in the field as well as overall UX knowledge.