"How a developer became a UX designer" - Boon Chew at Lightning UX

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 4 February 2011

On Tuesday night I was at Sapient Nitro's offices for an evening of Lightning UX organised by Lee McIvor. Featuring 8 speakers delivering five minutes each, it was a new event on the London UX calendar. Over the next few days I'll be writing up some of my notes from what was a great evening which I hope to see repeated.

"How a developer became a ux designer" - Boon Chew

Boon Chew said that when he was starting to get into being a UX designer, there weren't any personal stories out there, and so he wanted to tell his. Although his CV made him look like a programmer by trade, his outside interests had seen him making comics, newsletters and moonlighting doing some print design work. He found that he increasingly felt he was "designing" software, but that it was hard to do all three stages of "research - prototype - build" yourself.

He'd been reading books about user experience for years, and said that even back in 2005 with his software team he'd had them making paper prototypes. Alan Cooper was a particular influence.

He finds his biggest challenge now is to peel himself away from his monitor to use techniques that are not computer-oriented. "The fear of inefficiency" is something that developers have, and as a UXer you have to get used to throwing things away, which you rarely want to do with code. It is that "fear of inefficiency", of course, which is the thing that I think journalists can harness from the developer mindset to improve their working practices.

Boon finished by referencing what he called his "glue mantra". UX holds everything together, makes things "sticky", and, if you do it right, can get people high!

Johanna Kollmann tweeted something similar about her role in the UPA, but the best thing for me in Boon's talk was that he mentioned London IA as part of the peer group support he'd received as he made the transition to UX practitioner. It is really heartening to see that the community has had a positive impact on people within the profession.

You can see Boon's slides here:

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