By Bailey Herring
Have you ever opened a new website or program and found it easy and intuitive to use? Was the search bar where you expected it to be, and all of the buttons clearly labeled intuitively? If so, you've come across good user experience design (UX design).
At UNT's Department of Technical Communication, interested technical communication majors can learn about UX design with Dr. Erin Friess in TECM 4300 - Usability and User Experience.
TECM 4300 is intended to give students the basics of how to conduct UX testing and design including: heuristic evaluations, surveys, card-sorting, and more.
According to Dr. Friess, many of her students wind up working in environments where these processes are not formalized and she hopes that students take the knowledge from her course and apply it in their workplaces.
"I hope they will remember their usability evaluation methods and make arguments for the merits of usability assessment," Dr. Friess said.
Dr. Friess works to emulate a real-life UX design process as best she can to teach these skills to her students. Students are divided into small teams that operate based on the principles of scrum (a product development approach common in computer science and information technology).
Scrum characterized by its "sprints," periods of intensive development that result in a working build of the desired product, also called an "iterations" or "increments." As students work, they are expected to report their progress in daily meetings via Slack.com called "stand-ups." Each team elects one of their members as their "scrum master," who facilitates the meetings and the project as a whole and reports to Dr. Friess, the "product owner."
Friess says the goal is to familiarize her students with the terminology associated with scrum as well as how the process works.
"I want them to see that scrum isn't a scary thing," Friess said.
One student decided to become a tech comm major after his experience with Dr. Friess' course. Givon Conner, former computer science major, cites the way Dr. Friess conducted the course as a large factor in changing his career goals.
"She made the class enjoyable, and seemed very knowledgeable. That really helped me engage with the field," Givon said.
Along with several other tech comm majors, Givon recently attended a UX-focused conference in Dallas called Big Design.