The world of user experience isn’t new, but it’s definitely evolving and expanding the horizons of web development along with it. Being a professional in the field of UX can come with any one of a multitude of labels, and navigating where you fit can be tough if you’re starting out. Not to mention how, even as a developer, the code you write can impact user experience. Joining us this week, Patrick Branigan helps us lay out not just the titles you might have applied to you in UX, but also the skills and roles that those titles imply.

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did you say 231?

No. Here’s the thing. So y’all heard that click and I’m gonna leave it in the Edit so that you understand what’s happening here. I want to advise folks, karate classic allottee. I have been sipping on it consistently since we started and I forgot a very funny piece of information about it. It is bottled at 50% 100 proof. So it is Oh wow, it’s a little bit more normally. I think, Patrick your Glenfiddich I think it’s modeled at 43% so I’m going to give myself a pass on that at this point.

That should be the new tagline so strong and I’ll make you count wrong.

Yeah, that’s good.

Hey everybody, you’re listening to the drunken UX podcast. Thanks for joining us this evening. This is episode number 60, where we will be talking about UX career paths and different specialties within the sphere of user experience. We’re joined this evening by special guests. Patrick, Patrick, Pat. I’m not even drinking it. I can’t get out of my mouth. Patrick Brandon. Brannigan. It. I always say I’m sorry. But every time I read your name, I also think about what’s what’s the starship Captain on a trip stealer Rama. Oh, zap that Brannigan? Yeah, I get that a lot. Yeah. Every time I say it, I think about it. Folks. If you are enjoying the drunken UX podcast, be sure to stop by our friends in the interactive mapping world over at New cloud. You can check them out at New cloud dot Calm slash drunken UX. Be sure to throw the slash drunken UX on there so that they know that you got there because you were listening to us, we would appreciate it and they would love to sell you a map maybe or an illustration. Let’s see what else I am your host, Michael Fienen.

I’m your other host there, Anil. How you doing, Michael?

Not too bad. I’m still cooped up in the house. But I’ve been trying to get out and get some fresh air whenever possible. Where

Yeah, I had a walk today. That was nice.

Folks, if you want to connect with us, if you are out there and you’re cooped up and looking for somebody to chat with, you can find us on Twitter or Facebook. It’s slash drunken UX. You can also hit us on Instagram at slash drunken UX podcast. If you want to chat with us. There is a change you can still use our old URL that we plugged in other episodes, but use drunken UX comm slash Discord. We are moving from slack to Discord. There are a number of reasons for that change, none of which are really important to anybody but us but we will be transitioning over to discord So feel free to use the old link if you hear that. It will just refer you to Discord. So don’t be confused if you do slash slack and it sends you to a different application. Invite but Aaron, what are you drinking tonight? Man?

I just got I’m going basic. I got a second tonic tonight. Yeah, it’s just like the super simple. Like, I don’t want to say it’s technically alcohol. I mean, because it’s good. Like its flavor was vodka like, you know, and then you you add the flavor to it. I like it because it’s cheap. And it’s like good enough.

Yeah. Hey, there’s nothing to knock by finding something that you like that doesn’t break the bank. I’m not gonna never gonna throw shade that I drink monkey shoulder and that’s a $32 bottle of scotch and

we know that the one that wasn’t technically liquor what was the one that was technically call? Oh,

you know, I don’t know what. Oh, yeah. So ironically, though, so on the rocks, technically alcohol, technically scotch. From a distillery called Brook Lottie now on the rocks I don’t think you can get any more I don’t think they make it anymore because we’re cloudy is I kind of refer to them as a boutique scotch distiller. They like doing like limited runs or specialty runs of things. They generally don’t have age statements on anything because of the way they blend their scotch. But I am drinking a Brooklyn tea tonight I’m drinking the classic Lahti so it’s the one last episode I had you choose for me the four roses or the Burke Lottie and four roses then so I’m having to call it tonight. It’s the classical Adi. It’s very nice. It’s an island scotch. Normally Iowa scotch is very smoky, very PD. The classic Lahti is an unpainted Iowa scotch so it doesn’t have that like punch you in the face kind of flavor. It’s actually on the nose. It’s very like a sort of dry grass, morning grass kind of smell. grainy, kind of smelling but it’s got an oily slightly sweet palette to it. Okay, you get a little there is a tiny bit of like salt but there’s this Brian because it is still an island that bass scotch so you get a sort of brine Enos that comes out in it. That’s kind of nice. So if you think about that interplay between salt and sweet a little bit is definitely what you what you get out of it and often

the next time I have it

Yeah, never heard of that.

It’s just one of many and Berkeley has been really hit or miss for me. But I do like the classical Adi. It’s one that I am willing to go and the bottle is just very pretty. It’s a bright green. Oh, yeah. Wow. Green boy at Heidrick I think you’re you’re joining me on the trip to Scotland, right?

I I’m a beer guy myself. So this is a special occasion. I am drinking valley of the deer which I think it’s valley of the deer in Scottish Gaelic Glenfiddich. 15 year so I’m enjoying that for the first time in quite some time. Like I said, not typical typical drink of mine but

the the 15 is good. The 18 is pretty incredible though a little pricey. The 21 is one of my all time favorites. It’s a Speyside scotch It’s sweet that the 21 the Grand reserver is aged in rum casks similar to the balvenie 14 beautiful brown sugar kind of flavor to it. Double wood is still my favorite.

All my friends stopped getting married. So all there I ran out of marriages to go to so I have that’s where I would drink my scotch usually weddings.

The The thing I really like about Glenfiddich, even like the 12 The 12 is even really good and I think really outperforms say, Glenlivet, 12. You’ll run into a lot, both space sides doesn’t live at 12 has very little flavor to it for me but eat Glenfiddich at 12 years actually still really good too, and very affordable thing 35 maybe I

think it’s usually that would be usually if I were to buy a bottle what I would get this was a gift from a friend of mine from New York for my, my birthday a couple years ago, so it’s still running strong.

So this week, we are talking all about UX roles and job titles and specialties and skills and all of this to help you kind of understand when we talk about user experience. That’s a huge bucket of information. And so it’s way too big for me. It’s way too big. Prior and at least by ourselves, so we brought in pet project. I did it again. Why?

It’s okay.

This is the only time you’ve done this.

I say I feel feel bad about that. But the number of times people have mispronounced my last name, you know?

Yeah, no, I’m totally fine. It’s a lot of letters. I think it’s what seven and seven? That’s Yes. 14. So

he is a product designer at a little company that I have a tiny bit of familiarity with called 8.0. I think I’ve heard of them before. Yeah. Patrick and I are co workers, as it turns out, but we have a lot of overlap in some of the stuff we do. I am a front end developer, but he is one of our product designers and is heavily involved in both, you know, design and interaction design and visual design and all the things for the most part, which we will get into why these things overlap. Patrick, man, thanks for taking the time and sitting down with us. I know No, everything is crazy. But hey, we’re all trapped at home. So we might as well be doing something new this time, right?

Yeah, no, it’s happy to be here. I am thriving in this moment of being trapped at home. I, I don’t wish it upon anybody, obviously, especially with these circumstances. But yeah, I’ve been making do and it’s been quite productive, actually, for myself. But yeah, thanks for having

me. So I thought the best place to start with this discussion is let’s talk first and foremost about sort of the skills that make up UX. Because even I think it’s worth kind of pointing out that even if you are a developer, like Aaron, you’re your Ruby guy, you’re a back end guy. Yeah, you know, first and foremost, but the code you write still produces a user experience at some level.

Oh, yeah. I mean, I used to do like both sides a lot more.

And while we don’t necessarily we won’t get into it, and This episode, and we probably won’t really talk about it much anywhere, but even things like writing, you know, things on the back end were doing, you know, database layer abstraction layer type stuff, like latency in those exchanges translates to user experience problems, because it means the front end is slow. And the user doesn’t know if it’s broken, or they should wait or whatever the case may be.

Yep, the interconnectivity of it all is what I think makes user experience design hard to compartmentalize, right. I mean, some of those facets, you know, I’m sure you’ll touch on them, but research planning, creation, delivery, maintenance, and then you have front end back end as we’re talking about and the design aspect to it all and that all connects into the marketing and the marketing connects into the brand and identity and it’s, it’s a hefty turn right now, and then you get into things like cx

Customer Experience yeah and and all that, you know, these are things that bolt on and

you know, as it it just feels like it feels like every time a scandal gets the word gate added to it. That’s what this feels like. Everything just everything gets excellent now,

we work as an industry by trying to carve out value and we say, this is what I do. This is what I specialize in. This is what makes me valuable and it’s one of the reasons why you start getting all of these titles and all of this sort of fracturing of it. So people are just saying, This is my specialty. If I write a blog that gives it a name, and it gets picked up on Reddit then suddenly it’s a thing for the next six months.

Yeah, it’s that’s kind of a blessing and the curse or the double edged sword I guess of the entire conversation because it I think the limelight on UX design began to to shine heaviest in the era of us being able to self publish Whatever, you know, whatever we want and the accessibility to those, those pieces of content was easier and easier. And it’s hard to define. But at the same time, we tend to be in complete control of how we want to define it. It’s just a matter of understanding what that is.

Yeah. So I wrote a list here. And these are in no particular order. But one of the big ones, to me is research analytics. Because you got to know your users. You got to you have to know things to do things. And yeah, there’ll be an article and I’ll warn everybody, not Warren, I will advise everybody. This episode is reference heavy, and I’m not going to stop to point out every one of them the shownotes are going to be right with a ton of links that describe all of these job titles, all of these roles, advice. So with research, research analytics, of course, Nielsen Norman group, as always has a great article that has a breakdown of above have tips for user research. Go check it out. It’ll be in the show notes along with everything else that we’ll be talking about. But research is a huge piece of this equation. I think yes and foremost.

Yeah, totally is. And with that, I mean, I think research has an acute and particular connection to the ideas of UX design, user centered design, design, thinking, so on and so forth. And within that realm, there’s just seemingly an infinite amount of methods and exercises that can be employed to garner a better understanding of what we hope is people that are using these products and services. And so research that general area I think, is indeed probably the the first to become, I say compartmentalised, I don’t mean that in a bad way. But the first to become a little bit more defined in these processes that these companies are creating internally to create better user experiences.

The second area and I’ve joked about this on while elsewhere, I don’t know if I’ve brought this up on this show, actually, I was a theater major in college, which will come as a surprise to nobody who knows me. I learned that tonight. But I say that I was actually a communication major. My degree is a communication degree. It just happens to have been emphasized within theater. But communication is another important piece of user experience. And not just how you are able to, you know, talk to the rest of your teams or get a point across to management. A big part of this comes back to listening. It’s the whole reason is called user experiences. It’s about the user. And so a person’s ability to sit in the room with 10 people, ask a question, and then just absorb the feedback they’re giving you and write it down and take note of it. That’s all For a lot of people, yeah. And also differentiate between one loud person and a bunch of very quiet people who may be having a real problem, one loud person can make a trivial problem seem huge. A lot of quiet people may have a frustration that’s not getting noticed.

That’s 100% true, though. And it’s not just if you expand that, you know, design researchers and design strategists have to be good at listening to users, but they also have to be good at listening to the the companies, the businesses perspective, the the marketing’s perspective, the opportunistic spaces that are surfaced through these ideas that companies are coming up with and yeah, it’s hard it is it’s hard to listen and being a you know, traditionally as a designer, it’s it’s kind of a game of output. And I think it was a game of output and I think what it’s becoming more and more Have is a game of outcomes. And in order to really align everybody behind an outcome and a vision, there’s the inherent necessity to understand multiple perspectives. And by understand, I mean listen to them and make sense of them. Yeah.

You know, this makes you think of Michael, since you and I both have a background in higher ed. It’s when you’re in a meeting about content for the homepage on the higher ed website. And the dean or Chancellor or whoever your highest high ranking Hippo is, oh, yeah.

Highest Paid person’s

right. They they’re really set on there being a carousel or making a pop or any of that. And you have the the rank and file people who do the actual research on what students and its perspectives and everybody else wants and be quiet.

And I think that ties into communication, as you mentioned, just generally The way in which you as a designer have to articulate in in a synchronized fashion what these different perspectives mean to one another and find the unification or that thread of common understanding. Being able to explain that is difficult. And being able to explain it to everybody who you are listening to those different perspectives in a way that they all understand that is also quite difficult.

Yeah. Testing. Testing is a big part. Of course, we’ve been we’ve referred how many times there and we should we need a clicker for that, right? The rocket surgery made easy. user testing and understanding how to create a test that does you know, the thing of the scientific method, right? It’s all about generating a hypothesis, creating a test reviewing your results and seeing Did you prove or disprove that hypothesis? And that’s hard because a lot of people especially when Hippo is involved and is saying do this thing. They are inclined to tailor the test to produce the result that, you know, their CEO, their cmo that whoever is driving appoint, you know, they they’re inclined to kind of say, yeah, we’ll just make the test so that it produces an outcome. And that’s not good.

It’s it’s not uncommon for the outcomes of these tests to, to invalidate the ideas of these, as you’re calling them hippos or whoever, whoever, right. And then it’s a challenge of, well, what findings or opportunities are we finding in this quote unquote, failure that could push the product or the service forward? That’s, you know, constant learning and iteration and that happens with tests

now. So you were a theater marriage major in college, I was a chemistry major and one of the things that they always impressed on us at our lab classes was that like, science isn’t about proving things. It’s about disproving things. And so like you mentioned making a hypothesis. The good hypothesis is one that says like, well, if this hypothesis wasn’t true, this is what we would see. And you look for that negative outcome. Yeah. And then you look for a different negative outcome, and you keep looking for different ones, and you try to kind of slice it. You’re like you’re carving that marble away from the statue, you’re not molding the statue out of clay. And so you’re just finding different pieces of chaff that like, well, if this was chaff, it would this would happen. Cut that away.

To a degree what we’re fundamentally doing is experimenting. And I think that that is much of what you’re explaining to and, and experiments just generally when money is on the line, that that term in and of itself is scary, right? So

and I view testing to is something that I’m sure we’ve said this kind of in the past that you know, what was true for your users when you started your application or your tool, your site may not be true two or three years later, once they are familiar, you know, testing is always about challenging what you knew as much as what you want to know sometimes. And a lot of the times you can get very focused on testing the new thing, but not testing your old things. And so I think that’s something else. And those are the kind of nuanced pieces of information that I think become very valuable when somebody says, yeah, oh, yeah, we tested all of this stuff. And then we went back, and we redid it. Six months later, and we discovered that people had acclimated, and we’re using shortcuts. And so we improved this experience further, because they got used to it. Yeah. skeuomorphism is that classic comparison. We started with skeuomorphism because we needed people to understand mobile interfaces, in a way that nobody had ever seen before. Apple comes out with this thing called the iPhone. How do you change the Volume, let’s give them a knob. Eventually, people figured that out. And so you could start to simplify it and reduce and shave away. And as Aaron T, your example, we chipped away the marble on that and there now skeuomorphism feels old and dated and not as as sexy as far as that goes. And for those that we should probably say skeuomorphism is the practice of making, you know, designing something digitally to resemble something analog. So, the, like I said, with iPhone, the idea of volume knobs and

a good example of that, too is if you want to look into the research and testimonials behind it, but car car consoles and dashboards, that’s a wild west realm right now of understanding a balance between skeuomorphism reality what I can actually touch what I can’t, in circumstances where I can’t hear or I can’t look or I can’t see. So what am I doing? So you’re seeing a really cool amalgamation of ideas happening in that space that have to do with several different, quote unquote, past trends, if you will,

in design. The implementation of skeuomorphism is what Donald Norman would call affordances. You’re adopting you’re improving onboarding for a user by adapting something they know to something you’re trying to teach them. Yeah. So the the, you know, the volume knob or the the button that looks clickable, because it has a drop shadow, are are ways to indicate or just kind of suggests this can be clicked on or this can be turned. And like you mentioned before, we don’t really need to teach people not anymore. Yeah. But But I think that like as long as, as long as the presentation of it isn’t inhibiting it, like you don’t necessarily have to not do it. It’s just not as necessary as it used to be.

One of the big areas of x gets into prototyping wireframing. And this one is, I think, pretty straightforward. It’s exactly what it sounds like the ability to create an interface and show it to somebody and see does it work? Does it not work? Can you play with it? The idea behind prototyping and wireframe is no different, I think in the digital space than it has been in any space for the last hundred years. For the most part, it just takes on a slightly different form for us.

Yeah, if anything, it’s easier, right for us to we don’t have to deal as much with physical materials, for example, but they still, you know, when you’re creating an object, you’re still prototyping multiple, multiple times to get that feedback. Yeah,

I’m writing an IRA. Because the words you use generate an experience and one of the other ones this folds into a little bit is accessibility and inclusive design. And the reason I add these two together, the way like cognitive impairment and and thinking about like reading Level reading level can be an accessibility issue. And understanding you know that a lot. I don’t know what it is in the US now doesn’t the average person read it like a ninth grade level in the US or something like, frighteningly low actually is, is what I remember. And I’m going to afford myself, give myself the affordance to be wrong in my memory on that. But writing an IRA, IRA is information architecture, it’s the structuring of your data, not just dealing with navigation and folders. But literally thinking about where do people go to find certain information about you and and how is that structured?

Here’s a pro tip don’t organize your information architecture to directly reflect the architecture or the organization of your organization.

Yeah. Yeah.

I made. I made that mistake a long time ago, early in my career.

Anybody who has worked in higher ed, and I think sympathize with that. Because there is such not just even hierarchy of the university from like a people standpoint, but you fight with the structure of, you know, you think, well, you have a call or you have the University, the University is composed of colleges that colleges are composed of programs. But that kind of architecture stuff is where again, you want the user to find what they’re looking for. The last big one is interaction design. This is all of those little things, all the little bits and pieces that start to bind together one interface to another interface, how a button behaves, what happens when you click on an element down to what is the resulting page, you know, on the graph that you’re looking at, or, or the checkout of your shopping cart, interaction design flows through all of you know, all of that experience. We’ll talk about journeys here in a second, the user journey, the customer journey. Ernie all revolves around interaction design and figuring out how, how to get people to do things and entice them to engage in your design without it being into that hospital pattern, that possible pattern and dark pattern territory, huh?

Yeah, sort of like the before. The moment of and the moment after is kind of how I’ve always thought of interaction design both on it well, really on any level, it could be a button or it could be, I don’t know, jumping down an inflatable slide that you press the button and it inflated itself. Who knows, but that’s an interaction. That’s probably like, well, maybe one of the hotter topics of the past two to four years from the perspective of anybody who isn’t specifically and traditionally or historically involved in interaction design is how designers could more fluidly and rapid To create and prototype interactions into these visual assets that they have, and that’s where you’re seeing the rise of a lot of software ranging from. I don’t know, Zeppelin has been around for a while, but you had envision Studio figma, the list goes on, so on and so forth.

So from there, the reason I brought Patrick in here, as a product designer,

the longest introduction

intro for Patrick, get to this point. Patrick has been working on a tool recently that we’ve got to look at internally that is very cool that deals with figuring out how skills apply to a user and how different strengths in these different areas translate to what you are. And I want to be first straight up first and foremost, there’s no finite list. As we’ve already said, this is like a growing industry. You’ll see titles come and go as the industry matures. These are going to be a lot of like the really common ones that you’ll hear and and what they do basically,

or where they fit, I think is a is a good way to put it right. I think there’s so many facets to experience design and everybody with a particular you know t depth. specialty can fit into the world of UX. It’s, it’s not so much. Do you have the right skills to be a UX designer? It’s more, what value do you bring that helps our experience, process and team go to the next level.

And it’s valuable, I think, right to especially understand how broad This is, when it comes to interacting with people who aren’t in web development, interacting with marketers interacting with management, and helping them understand why you may be good in a couple of these areas. Why you’re not good At all of them, because we’re going to go over a couple here. There’s not a lot of overlap in some of these, even though they all tend to be considered UX. And that’s okay. Like, that’s I think the big part is I want to show you how broad This is. So that you don’t feel bad when you’re not good at all of it. Because you shouldn’t be. Most of you will fall into the first category. Most people who get into this field will be the designer of one. I think that’s is that

a? Yeah, it’s kind of the I think it’s been discussed as the one who wears many or all the hats, I think, in the past, and I for one have been in that position multiple times. And it’s a very fruitful position because you learn a lot of skills that aren’t directly related to your output as a designer. Absolutely. And that goes for both the craft but also the business right, what to do, when to do it, what not to do and when not to do it. And so yeah, it’s the title. Have a designer that has a general understanding of the UX design process and the methodologies involved in their entirety and therefore can deliver enough value in any one area.

The phrase you’ll hear in articles, I think a lot is UX generalist. Yeah, yeah. And I correct me if I’m wrong. I’m gonna speculate here. As we talk through these. I feel like if you start as a designer of one or a generalist, and that’s something you really get your foothold in, you will generally evolve into either like a UX design architect or a product designer, because those roles as we’ll mention here tend to oversee a lot like they they understand sort of the full chain, the end to end process a lot better.

Yeah, I would speculate even further myself and say, product design, in some ways is what the the conversation of UX design was a couple years ago. It’s it’s just now becoming more and more relevant, I think to businesses that there are specialties in UX design and UX design is is much more of a concert, if you will, rather than a skill set and product design to your point, I think is, is a specific position where Yeah, you’re not going extraordinarily deep. Every day, I’ll put it to you that way. Right? You do you do get into the weeds, you do get into the intricacies. But your primary value isn’t so much tied to particular artifacts or particular spaces in teams. It’s more of the perspective on orchestrating multiple things at one time with with a unified and forward

thinking vision. What I’ve done, I had, I’ve looked at Patrick’s tool, and I lifted most of these titles from that. I think maybe one or two of them came from some other research.

And I’ve lifted some titles from Places over the years that I’ve come across. So these are not by any means novel to me.

Start with UX researcher. This one’s easy. I think a UX researcher is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a data scientist, right? Like that’s, that’s the sort of more generic term you would have heard applied to this 10 years ago,

I would take issue with it’s exactly what it sounds like. Because before we had we interviewed, or we had a guest, anyone on episode 57. Yeah. And she is a UX researcher. Like that’s her profession. And before that episode, I had a very different thought of what UX research was. Fair enough. And so I think the might the takeaway that I had was that UX researchers are looking into the future of where UX is heading, rather than looking at what like the current practices are. I always thought UX or was like, you know, like, oh, someone who has read all of the NSG and all of the current usability books and has like, a mastery of that. But that’s not it’s like future. I think both are declining rally,

you know, researchers have in any field, you have your futurists you have, you know, the people who are trying to predict where things will go. But you also have people who are trying to predict if, or not predict, but verify if what is happening now works. That’s the, we’ve used this phrase, I think before trust, but verify. That’s what analytics is all about. Trust, but verify. That’s what the researcher does. They are the verify piece of that equation, whether that’s verifying what you think is going to happen or what you think is happening. And so they’re the people who know how to step in, and run I said earlier, that scientific method,

just generally, from my perspective, the UX designer as a researcher is one who tends to conduct qualitative and quantitative research in order to essentially inform decisions that are going to be made but that requires the ability to look forward. It requires to To predict opportunity in a large part and that is very forward thinking and, more importantly, their ability to help synthesize that research to inform the business and their future is really where, where their value from a high level

excels. Earlier we mentioned testing this is where the testing starts to factor in because they will take the test results and figure out how do these things answer there, of course, will be an article specifically in the show notes that goes into you know, what, what is UX researcher and how do you become one of Andy’s episode was Episode 56 if you want to go back and check that one out.

Yeah, I found that design researchers in UX teams, they are super valuable when it comes to understanding the uncertain the complex and the ambiguity that exists in a marketplace or, or the the strategy and positioning of a

product. I’ve never known a researcher that did Love being given the opportunity to say, go learn something. Yeah. Like not, here’s what we want to know. It’s go out and figure something out. Like that’s where I’ve always found researchers really thrive is just being given carte blanche and say, hey, go figure out where we’re going.

And and it’s hard. It’s like, it is very hard. I mean, and they may be wrong. Yeah, totally the amount. It’s hard on two fronts. One, there is a lot involved with research as a designer involved in research, there is a lot to do and to once you get down from the tear of companies that are the Facebook’s the IBM’s, the the oracles of the world research is often the area that a company looks at and really needs to be proven to that it’s valuable. And that’s that’s the difficulty. I think. For a lot of, you know, smaller companies that don’t have the bandwidth or don’t have the resource or don’t have the monetary foundation to invest, and it’s unfortunate, but I think it’s becoming more and more prevalent throughout, you know, a range of industries and verticals.

Yeah. So from there we translate into UX strategist. The way I classify this is the strategist is the person who I hate this phrase change agent.

It feels like disrupter.

Yeah, Buzz. I hate that phrase change agent. The idea is you extract just drives change. Strategy is all about, you know, positioning yourself. It’s all about finding advantage. To me, a UX strategist is that person who figures out from the information the researcher gives them and other things. They are helping product managers and product designers identify the office opportunities for the business? And then how do we align that with what our business strategy is? And you know what the user expectations are for our company?

Yeah, I think that’s that’s to a good degree. How I think about a design strategist in the in the realm of user experience design, I think, I like to think of it as they’re sort of the folks who act as a compass for navigating that big picture or that future if it’s like looking like it could be fruitful, right. Yeah,

I like that a lot.

So they’re very much involved in the in the explorative. environments and businesses and they’re there to work with your head of products and your C suite and, and your design team.

And there’s somebody that the communication piece is going to factor in very heavily, because they need to know how to take this information the researchers are giving them and have it make sense to the business strategy. And that can be very, you know, that can go through many layers before it gets to those people. And so articulating that well and helping people understand that can be incredibly valuable.

Yeah, they leveraged to, I think, just generally speaking, they if you’re in the room with several different perspectives in the business, they’re able to leverage the user side of things in terms of what’s the strategy plan gonna be

from their design architects. This is what I call the maestro, a design. UX design architect is somebody that I think of as the person who conducts the concert, right? They’re helping, especially when we get into talking about visual designers and information architects. They’re the people there, they’re the person who is really keeping all of these things in lockstep or as a physical architect. They’re the person who knows how to make the building and make it in a way That can be actually built. I it’s

funny, you mentioned like a musical analogy, because I often arrive at analogies and music when I’m talking about product design. They’re often the kind of the kind of designer who’s able to deliver sort of original concepts in a way that they articulated to a wider audience. And that that synchronization that you’re talking about, sort of like the orchestrator, if you will, they’re able to structure that in a way that makes sense, both to the product or the service, but also to the business and make it a bit more concrete.

Could you could you elaborate how I made a sneak preview of the next one, but the way that you described as an architect makes you think a product designer?

That’s Yeah, that’s why I was saying I it’s funny that you mentioned the music analogy, because that is very much an overlap. I think when I think of architects just generally, in the UX space, their their focus tends to be more on Overall literal function, if you will, whereas a product designer, while while I, as a product designer care very much about how things are functioning in the work that we’re doing. I spend most my time more in the subjective up top and more of a higher level having to overview and oversee what’s going on from front to back,

I guess, I think of a guy like Frank Lloyd Wright a lot in this sort of a silo because, you know, he was somebody, you know, revolutionary in the, you know, physical structure, architecture realm. And, you know, he designed houses that pushed the boundaries, and innovated in a lot of different areas. And you can look at his houses today and think I’m impressed that that thing is still standing. Because he understood the big picture when he would design those things and he knew that if I bring it These people and these resources we can make this house was a waterfall is waterfall, falling water falling water. That’s what it is, is one of those houses that it’s like, it shouldn’t be. But he knew how to do it and he was able to pull it off. And that’s where I think about something like a UX architect. Hmm. So you mentioned product designer. So this is the next one in my list here. So the way I phrased it was, you know, the product designer is likely to create or oversee journey maps, wireframes, prototypes, and even system design. I really hate the way I write notes sometimes.

If you’re if you’re taking say a lot of synthesize findings from a researcher and you’re working with a strategist to infuse those into the business, I kinda again see the architect in the planning state being able to infuse that into the blueprint of what we might build and work with UX designers and product designers to see that out. Hmm. Which could be wrong, which could be totally wrong. By the way, that’s just as our most, you know, labels and titles. Why did I even make an attempt at a tool? Right?

So your title is product designer, what would you view your responsibilities as a product designer? What does that encompass for you, Patrick,

I will preface this with I work at a particular company that sees product design as a, as a as something that another company may not. So it does depend on where you’re at. But product design, I view as more of a holistic approach to building something from start to finish and beyond that, hopefully serves in need. As a product designer in my role, I’m at the intersection of a lot of disciplines. I need to have like the wherewithal and overarching perspective on a problem space to the degree that I can work towards this solution, both at the ground level and also at a higher level. And to go back to the music analogy, I do find myself in a position where I feel like I’m a player of an instrument, who is keenly interested and understands the orchestra as a whole. So I have my hand and and the intricacies of the work. But I’m also constantly aware of the full piece and its meaning, if that makes any sense, you know, the mill. Okay. Right. And I do think too, and I don’t know if this is true elsewhere, but a lot of my job is in making sense of several perspectives that are inbound about an idea, alignment of teams and their perspectives and alignment of three facets that I’m always having to keep track of in my head, which is the business the user and opportunity. So, defining defining a problem making us making something to solve it and validating The solution in the real world is sort of like the baseline that I would say that I’m involved in.

From product design we get into Visual Design. Now, visual design can be, I think, frequently confused with simply graphic design. It is it’s a squares rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t always a square, right? There’s overlap and there’s a lot of overlap, but visual design tends to focus heavily on you’ll hear phrases like visual communication, or visual language. Okay, and, and it generally we’ll apply only in the design or at the digital space. Graphic Design could be in a magazine graphic design could be on a billboard graphic design could be in a flyer, visual design is on a website,

the duty I guess, as a visual designer, perhaps being to effectively design to influence or Garner reaction from users that are engaging In a product or service, graphic design, yes, I mean, the fundamental principles of graphic design do overlap very much with just the entire realm of visual design, as does what one might call and what I went to school for, which is Communication Design, because you communicate visually as well.


visual design, in the space of user experience design has a lot to do with the point of engagement, the point of stimulation, the point of representation of an idea or a brand or an identity or a system of components across the entire suite of tools or products or services in a seamless and cohesive manner, if that makes any sense,

a lot of overlap and a lot of shared value between them. The next two are very closely related at least in relation to each other Which is information architecture and UX writing.

Yeah, I think you talked about it a bit in earlier in the show.

Yeah. So if you are an information architect, you’re generally tied into organizing the stuff of your website. And figuring out like, all of the times people will think we’ll ay ay ay ay is just navigation and I had mentioned earlier, ay ay ay ay ay ay goes beyond that. It’s the overall structure of your site. And the thing I like to use is that the idea that it builds scent for your website,

like smelling since

Yeah, because think about when you go into Google Analytics, and you look at landing pages on your site. Obviously, the homepage is the major landing page, but people land elsewhere on your site. And if they’re looking for other information, does that landing page give them sent to know where they are?

Oh, that’s really interesting on

your site, The trunk,

I too was like, what, what exactly would that mean? But yeah, I guess that does make sense. It’s

the argument that it comes back to is something that goes back about 12 years, I think at this point 10 years, a debate I had with Jared spool about breadcrumbs and the value of breadcrumbs, because they take up space, they take up physical space on your web page. His data showed that they that nobody use them, nobody clicks on breadcrumbs as a tool. My argument was they provided sent to the user to understand where they were within the confines of your site. And how do you measure like that? That’s a hard thing to measure. But that’s part of what information architecture is all about. And an architect comes in and thinks about, okay, if you land it on the computer science degree, does that scent provide you the information if you want to go over and look into, you know, an MBA, for instance, because it was The College of Business in this case, probably not. And so you think about how these things are interconnected and intertwined, so that users can get from point A to point B, regardless of where they where they land. Patrick, I think you said you use the analogy of a compass.

Oh, earlier on, we were talking about it. Yes. Yeah.

That that I think rings very true. Right. It’s it’s a, it’s a different way of saying since right, you need that truenorth to kind of figure out where you’re going on a site. That’s what I A does in the con. Sure. Anyway, and

it’s worth, I think, touch or just noting that there’s an entire plethora of exercises behind that to write to make sense and organize information just generally to structure it in a way that makes better sense to an experience you’re trying to provide. Yeah,

I think Krug calls out the trunk test, right? Like if you’re, if someone kidnapped you and threw you in the trunk of a car and dropped off the middle of the website, could you find your way to The Dodger kind of breaks out breaks down there.

Yeah, no, that’s I think that’s right. It was a test on navigability. Right. Yeah.


The last part of that. So I mentioned UX writing. A UX writer is somebody, think about it. There’s a really easy way to sort of divide this right. your blog is not ran by a UX writer. But the little pieces of information that exist within an application can be driven by UX writer. copywriters will deal with long flow, okay. Okay.

Yeah. Yeah, it’s an interesting.

Right, right. Are you like UI and UX elements?

Yeah. So I was gonna mention like, there’s a lot of overlap, I think too, with with just generally the practice or not, well, the profession of UI designer, they often I think, whether they like it or not, are involved in a lot of the, the language that’s found in the interfaces that they’re designing for. I just was going through a small challenge with some developers today on on exactly this topic where we had a list of items. And each line item had the ability to be saved, or shared. And if it were saved, it would go into a grander list. And this has to do with the context of saved searches and search history and what have you. And when you’re in that saved list, he had said, Okay, well, well, I mentioned we have to have perhaps a way to, to eliminate that that saved line item or remove it. And so they prototyped it with the term unsafe, which to me rings like well, first of all, who uses that term on Save? Secondly, does regardless of my perspective on it, Does it ring true to the people who are using the product. And what we found was, it doesn’t, that was our hypothesis, but also the value and focusing on something As simple as whether the word unsaved makes sense is, in the future, say the context of a saved search query is actually reframed as a favorite. So are you on saving a favorite? Or are you on favoriting? At that point, so we arrived at the terminology remove, which is right broadly applicable to several different instances of that at individual experience.

We had a similar issue, come up with an open source project that I work on where there was the question of when you’re soft deleting a record, what is the verb to use for that? Because like it, you want it you want to communicate to the user. This isn’t going to be deleted forever. But at the same time, also like this is kind of a destructive change, and you should be careful. I think we settled on deactivate for this one. And then for a different one, we used archive. Yeah, and it’s very contextual, but I get what you mean by Between a copywriter and a UX writer, they’re very different goals.

The phrase if you want to Google it and get some articles on it is microcopy.

That Yeah, that I’m that I’m familiar. Yeah,

that’s one that will ring true with a lot of people. It’s like these little blurbs, five, six words here and there that helps you understand interfaces and interface design.

I know that you didn’t intentionally order these in any particular way. But I like that the first item is UX generalist where the firm might have one person doing everything. And the last one is UX writer, which is the person responsible for doing microcopy. Micro Yeah, component. Yeah, like, like, when we when we talk about, like how much budget a department might have for various tasks to like, allocate a specific specialist. Yeah, like this is definitely on the opposite side of the spectrum from a general

and this is like, it’s a crazy conversation because it’s, it’s just so extensive and almost exhausting to have to, to have to categorize. And businesses love to do this. They like to categorize based on what their perceived skill set is and slap a label on it and then make teams out of it. And that’s why I encourage thinking of UX design as a process. And as a team, you have particular values, particular strengths and particular weaknesses. And you’re looking at where are those crevices and voids in in your team and those values that certain people might bring to the UX process might fill that and that that’s, that’s the way I look at it.

So the last area of all of this comes down to Okay, so here’s what UX is. Here’s what some titles are, what do you do about it? How do you hone these skills? How do you expand these skills? First and foremost, I want to say, figure out which broad skill set applies to you. We mentioned a bunch of these at the start of the show. Is it? Are you a research nerd? Or do you like communication? Do you love running tests? Or do you like making something? Figure out like, which one of those things appeals the most to you? One incredible resource. And I just I literally, as I was researching this episode, I noticed this feature. If you go to uX they they’re one of the resources we’ll mention again here momentarily. They’ve got this background that looks like a little grid of UX titles. In the upper right corner. If you click a button, there’s a button that says View infographic, it brings their background to the foreground. And it has all of these interconnected bubbles of research and design and strategy and development. And it shows you how different skills kind of connect and overlap And that, to me was super cool. And it helps you understand like, the person who does your information architecture doesn’t necessarily have a lot of overlap with the people doing AV testing. But if you are doing design and product strategy, those can be two different roles, but they’re also very closely related. So that can help you figure out if you look at think about what your passion is, what interests you, and see what it connects to. Within those bubbles. I think that’s kind of a good way to go and dig in a little bit, at least to figure out where you should branch out to if you want to broaden your horizons. So so to speak,

up really, really quick point, I think there’s probably a depth that someone who wants to get into UX should spelunk to in each of those areas, even if they ultimately choose just a very narrow set to really specialize in just the guests.

I think that’s probably right. Yeah. Yeah. The two things that strike me from looking at this right now is how accessibility is out on its own lone Island.

Yeah, I don’t.

I don’t love that either. And I immediately I was like, okay, where’s the design? And where’s the development? Oh, it’s everywhere. So we couldn’t put accessibility everywhere. We had to put it on a lone Island. And the other thing is like the the form that this takes on, insinuated to me the the idea that out of any one of these could grow a bridge or a new, what I’ll call molecule or something. So it is, it does give you a sense of the organic nature of the entire landscape. Yeah.

The second thing you should do read, read, read, read. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are four sites for websites I’ll recommend to you right now. They’re all easy because they all start with the name UX for some reason. Whatever reason, I guess Google likes the key word UX. And if you go to the show notes, I think we’ve got sites from literally every one of these in the show notes, UX booth, UX, planet UX, collective UX matters. All of these put out content that can help you understand any and or all of these facets of this whole realm. So you can start to figure out what makes sense to you what doesn’t, what you like and what you don’t like, and what you think you’re good at versus what you think you need to learn more about.

I could throw a few more out there if you want to do it. UX booth UX design, cc envision runs a bunch a series of talks that you could catch up on trends.ux interaction and of course, a go to for me is and it’s a little bit more broad and conceptual, but the 99% invisible podcasts

Yeah, and a list apart, list apart. So he’s pretty fundamentally sound 99% invisible is a good plug because I enjoy the hell out of that, because it does get very broad in, in concept. If those went by too fast for anybody, don’t worry, I’ll go back through when I’m editing and I will add links to every one of those in the show notes. There’s also a lot of online training out there. Now these are less official, there are some certifications you can go get. Do it if you want to. They’re expensive as shit. A lot of them range from, you know, literally thousands to like 1012 $15,000 don’t advocate for that for a lot of people because it’s out of your budget, but there’s online training that you can go look at it’s got a lower barrier to entry Udemy is got a really good course that we’ll have linked Pluralsight I know this episode is airing about mid April, you only have about two weeks left take advantage of it but plural sites offering all their courses free to folks during the whole COVID-19 lockdown, go check them out. And not to plug our stuff. But the gymnasium calm, we’ve got two or three different really good UX courses you can take. They are free, no strings attached to ever. And there are a lot of those resources out there that you can go and learn some of these concepts, even if you’re just starting out and really want to learn the basics and and all of this entry level stuff. Those are all really great ways to get started in that. Folks, stick with us. We’re going to take a quick break and be right back and then we will get you on to your next show that you’re hopefully going to listen to that maybe will be 99% a little invisible I don’t know. The drunken UX podcast is brought to you by our friends at New cloud. New cloud is an industry leading interactive map provider who has been building location based solutions for organizations for a decade. Are you trying to find a simple solution to provide your users with an interactive map of your school city or business? Well, new clouds interactive map platform gives you the power to make and edit a custom interactive map in just minutes. They have a team of professional cartographers who specialize in map illustrations of many different styles and are ready to design and artistic rendering to fit your exact needs. One map serves all of your users devices with responsive maps that are designed to scale and blend in seamlessly with your existing website. To request a demonstration or to view their portfolio, visit them online at New slash drunken UX. That’s interview slash drunken UX. Patrick, man, thanks for coming on with us tonight. We appreciate it and digging into all these things and there’s this is such a deep well. Again, the show notes will be open to everybody. There’s a ton of information there. But take the microphone for a couple minutes. tell people where they can find you what you got going on or anything at all that they want you to know that you want. I’m still making stuff backwards.

Well, I guess first and foremost, I think my primary outlet is Twitter so you can find me on Twitter at I’m gonna spell this out for you, Michael. Okay, that P Branigan, p, b, Ra, and IGA. And

I feel like there’s like four to few R’s in that. And

that’s, that’s where I’m at. I hope I spelled that right. You can find the majority of my commentary just about anything mostly designed in gaming to be quite frank there. But yeah, gaming, like video gaming, or like board gaming or game design, video games. I’ve been dabbling in some indie game development in the past or plug to Godot engine. And yeah, that’s where I would say that’s where if you You want to, you want to find out more about me otherwise, as Michael mentioned, over at a Quint, and we are in fact hiring designers right now. So senior UX designer role is open. Feel free to reach out to me for that. Other than that, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

So if you want to connect with us on the socials, we are tracking UX on Facebook and Twitter. And you can come and chat with us now jumping into x comm slash Discord. And you can see all of Michael’s wonderful UX memes on slash dragon UX podcast. It’s good, dude, that

it’s a whole range. There.

There are quality.

I did want to say one last thing. Go for it. There were a lot there were a lot of titles the labels mentioned in this podcast. The first thing you want to do if you’re trying to get into this world is throw all of them out the window. Don’t worry about that. I’m serious, don’t worry about them.

And yeah, they they will change and evolve. And I think if there’s one piece of advice I can give anybody, it’s just to roll with that and understand that you need to grow and evolve and change. Keep reading keep

was that a bet? Or a dare to say?

No, I I’m laughing because he said the one piece of advice I have to give you and he didn’t say what I thought he was gonna,

do you think I was gonna say something? That the only thing I have left to say is something stupid like, Hey, folks, keep your personas close. But your users closer Bye bye.

This episode of The Drunken UX Podcast brought to you by nuCloud.