My next challenge is to focus on what skills I do have that go well with UX, and what I skills I need to grow and how I can do that. Currently my area of expertise is game design, but there are a lot of skills that crossover. It’s difficult for people to analyze themselves this way and even more so to do in a blog post. I would be lying obviously if I said I have all the UX skills ever (same with game design but that’s not my focus today). I think it’s important to just be vulnerable in this moment and be publicly (lol as available as my blog is) accountable for my shortcomings so I can improve. This includes soft skills and hard skills.
I am not afraid to speak up with my feedback or concerns in a meeting – my shortfall is doing it in the right way. I think I can come off really harsh sometimes, and if I am nervous about what I’m going to say, it shows because I stumble over my words and I can’t make myself form the feedback that I’m emotionally trying to communicate. Using a white board and pictures is much better for me. My visual and written communication skills are more advanced than my verbal ones.
I’m always asking myself what a player is going to do or think in my games. I can continue to grow in my empathy towards a user by doing more research with them and continuing to keep them part of the design process.
I do calendar blocking and keep a written planner so I feel confident in my organization skills. Like, every hour of my week is blocked out as I start it and there’s room for flexibility. It’s safe to say my organizational skills are strong.
I have done “user research” in the form of game playtesting. I have not done this through interviewing the user, surveys, or focus groups. Game playtesting is much less formal, and while I typically have pinpointed questions that I’m solving during that test with players, I can bring this to a more traditional research level through a variety of testing for more than just mechanics and flow.
I can’t say that I’ve ever consciously done this outside of creating my own website (which you’re on) and some rough student work. If you can find your way around here, maybe I’m okay. I can definitely practice this more by building prototype sites and wire frames to identify where I’m struggling with this skill. For now, it is mostly unexplored.
Wire framing & Prototyping
I am assuming that most wire framing and prototyping is quite similar to how I would create a paper prototype for a game. It’s just the bare bones of what you need to communicate the experience – typically little art and only placeholder text. Games typically take a little more work than a post-it or index card for a prototype, but the value gained from wire framing and prototyping is just as valuable (if not more because you’re doing *so* much of the work without using technological resources that undoubtedly cost more).
A final reminded for me as my UX skills develop: UX is the process of creating functional and usable applications where UI is making them visually and aesthetically pleasing. I’d like to get good at both, but I find myself caring a lot more about function and usability because if no one can figure out how to use your product, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is. Similarly, it doesn’t matter how beautiful a video game is if it’s too buggy and doesn’t flow well because no one will be able to play it and discover all that nice art. I understand that having a solid and functional foundation for the UI to stand on is the first step to creating an awesome product that people want to have.