Converging on Diversity: Expanding the Horizons of UX Education

Fred Beecher is The Nerdery’s Director of User Experience and Design. He has been training UX designers since 2007 and in 2013 he started our UX Apprenticeship program. He is co-chairing the 2016 Interaction Design Education Summit, which will take place February 28-29 in Helsinki, Finland.

I never wanted to be a User Experience (UX) designer when I grew up. When I was growing up, there weren’t any UX designers. The trailblazing pioneers of the field were just beginning their work. In the nearly 20 years that I have been a UX designer, it has been a very difficult field to break into until very recently. I got into it mostly by accident. What kind of a future does a field have when demand for it is high but talent supply is critically low? Very little future at all. I am committed to the field of UX, so by extension I am committed to UX design education. That is why I’ve participated in the Interaction Design Education Summit every year it’s been held and why I’m co-chairing this year’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland.

In 2016, aspiring UX designers have far more options for getting into the field than they ever have before. Historically, only a few institutions have offered interaction design degrees while others offered degrees in human factors, technical writing and other almost-but-not-quite fields. Now, far more academic design and UX programs exist both as degrees as well as certificates. If that won’t work for you, you can go to a “hack school” and learn the fundamentals in 12-20 weeks. You can even do that remotely, online, with a personal mentor. Or you could find yourself an apprenticeship (which is the best option, obviously ;)) or an internship. Or you could sign up for a mentorship program. You could even go to Chattanooga for two years to work on real client projects under the guidance of some of the best minds in UX at Center Centre. There are so many options.

This diversity of options is something that is a really good sign for our field and something that the Summit committee consciously sought to promote from the very beginning. We tried very hard to make sure we had people representing a spectrum of perspectives speaking and conducting working sessions at the Summit. You’ll find presenters from at least four different educational contexts: academia, design and art schools, vocational schools, and industry.

But educational context wasn’t the only area in which we consciously cultivated diversity at the Summit. Fundamentally, we are designers. Designers understand that more perspectives, working together, build not only better products but better cultures. So we have female speakers from American hack schools, male proposal reviewers from South American design schools, women from the UK and Europe facilitating working sessions. Our opening keynote is Xiangyang Xin, the dean of the School of Design at Jiangnan University in China, who is revolutionizing design education in his country. If you join me at the Interaction Design Education Summit in Helsinki this year, I guarantee you will come away from it with a much broader perspective and the inspiration to add your own unique flavor to the constantly evolving landscape of design education.

The Nerdery itself is committed to educating designers at all levels of practice. Our apprenticeship program provides people with the raw characteristics required to be great UX designers with the fundamental knowledge and skills to jumpstart their careers. Our continuous learning environment facilitates skill building and acquisition among our entire design team. We recognize that for our business to be successful we must do what we can to ensure the success of all our fields of practice.

Curious about apprenticeships and careers in the field of UX? Post a question in the comments section below or reach out to us.

Nerdery.com gets brand evolution, redesigned by Nerds

Cobbler’s children have new shoes

We launch our fair share of websites, but our own site has changed little for longer than we care to admit (OK, six years) – until just now. Boom. Time has come today to reveal our brand evolution and new website.

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Profiles in Nerdery: Chris Wade, Bay Area Code Breaker

Every month we feature one of our Nerds and have them share a little bit about themselves and what they love to do both inside and outside of The Nerdery. Today we’re highlighting Chris Wade, Senior Quality Assurance Engineer in Mountain View, Calif.
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Led by Google Developer Group Twin Cities, DevFestMN brings together developers, designers and technology enthusiasts across the Midwest for an informative and hands-on one-day conference. We’re proud to have multiple current and former Nerds play a part in this year’s event planning, including three of our Nerds who will be leading sessions throughout the day.
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With the growth of the digital, social and mobile age, consumers are seeing more marketing messages than ever. They’re also empowered more than ever to inform themselves through online and word-of-mouth research prior to making purchases, often while using and transitioning between multiple devices. What does this mean for the buyer’s journey? Do consumers still follow a defined purchase path?
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Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015

Sith
Ah, the new year. Time for setting ambitious resolutions you may or may not keep, writing the wrong date on everything and reading through “Best of 2015” lists — including ours! On our blog last year we covered everything from
Nerd culture to tech tips to business strategy. Check out our ten most-read posts of 2015 below.

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Profiles in Nerdery: Mark Seemann, Pentathanerd Mastermind

Every month we feature one of our Nerds and have them share a little bit about themselves and what they love to do both inside and outside of The Nerdery. Today we’re highlighting Mark Seemann (above in the center), Senior Software Engineer at our Minneapolis office.
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Nerds donate 200 toys in memory of the Bucklin boys

Every year since 2010, we honor the memory of Nick, Nate, Noah and Luke Bucklin by partnering with Toys for Tots to collect gifts for kids in the Twin Cities.
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Are Your Systems Ready For Rapid Growth?

Positioning your business for success isn’t something that organizations should concern themselves with when they start to explode — it should be done from the very beginning. When you’re dreaming big, plan big. Continue reading Are Your Systems Ready For Rapid Growth?