In today’s technology-enabled world, there’s stiff competition for users’ attention. End users only interact with digital products and services that bring them value. Enter user experience (UX), a research-based approach to solving technology problems using technical skills and creative design. Andy Mara, associate professor in Arizona State University’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, provided an in-depth definition:
“User experience measures how much an object or interface serves users’ wants and needs, and goes beyond typical measurements of whether a user can successfully complete a task. This new emphasis on documents, software, hardware and objects helps technical communicators create better products.”
Characteristics that signal value include usability, desirability, accessibility and more. That is, UX is concerned with how a digital product looks, functions and feels to a person using it. As technology continues to evolve, so does the need for UX professionals to make it work for the people who use it.
UX climbs to the forefront of design and development
UX is growing exponentially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in web development and digital design is expected to grow by 23% between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than average for all occupations. This is expected to result in 21,800 new job openings in these fields per year.
Not only is there more demand for UX upgrades across organizations, but users’ needs continually evolve. The design and functionality that brings positive human-computer interactions now will change over time. A degree concentration in UX allows you to build foundational skills that you can utilize as users’ needs evolve.
There are multiple ways to specialize in UX. In honor of National Techies Day, we’re highlighting three ASU Online degrees that have a concentration in UX. Each concentration provides transdisciplinary knowledge in UX with an emphasis on how it relates to your major.
Technical communication: UX concentration
As user UX is people-oriented, this concentration anchors on building specific UX communication skills. In this program, you’ll learn how to develop and share research related to how users interact with products. Additionally, you’ll gain an understanding of how to gather user feedback, analyze and interpret data and present findings to stakeholders.
The Bachelor of Science in technical communication with a concentration in UX program is popular among ASU Online students. According to Mara, about half of those interested in a UX concentration choose technical communication as a focal point. However, if you choose this path, you’ll also gain exposure to other areas of UX.
“Students with this concentration apply UX methods during a design cycle, and are encouraged to take a range of courses in technical communication, human systems engineering, graphic information technology and more to develop their UX toolbox,” said Mara.
As an expert in technical communication, you’ll graduate poised to step into UX roles, such as UX analyst, architect, consultant, designer, researcher, specialist and writer.
Graphic information technology: UX concentration
Graphic information technology is concerned with user-focused design that leads to positive interactions with products and services. While communication and human systems engineering play an important role in the whole picture of UX, visual design takes center stage in the Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology with a concentration in UX program.
Through a variety of courses, you’ll understand why UX design is both an art and a science. Creating user-friendly digital and physical products requires incorporating aspects of:
In other words, UX designers must balance competing priorities between how a product looks and how it works for the end user. Course offerings in this UX concentration allow you to build the skills necessary to achieve these goals, with topics ranging from web content design to design illustration.
With foundational knowledge in graphic information technology and UX design, you can pursue a variety of creative and technical roles. Potential job titles include technical writer, graphic designer, product designer, UX researcher, product manager, content strategist and more.
Bachelor of Science in human systems engineering: UX concentration
People are the end users of technology, so human capabilities and limitations should be at the forefront of product design. A mix of computer science, engineering and psychology, the Bachelor of Science in human systems engineering with a concentration in UX program emphasizes creating efficient human-computer interactions. Improvements to human systems integration can lead to enhanced safety, comfort and productivity.
In this human engineering systems degree concentration, you’ll develop an extensive UX tool belt, including competencies in:
- Design and development.
- Research and analysis.
Career opportunities abound for graduates versed in the UX side of human systems engineering. Possible roles include game designer, human factors engineer, human systems integrator, interface designer, usability engineer and more.
Develop a well-rounded UX education
No matter the UX concentration you choose, you’ll graduate prepared to address the technology needs of 21st century end users. While you’ll focus primarily on UX related to your major in technical communication, graphic information technology or human systems engineering, you’ll also gain exposure to the other areas of the field as well.
If you’d like to continue your UX studies following your bachelor’s degree, you can also pursue ASU Online's Master of Science in user experience. Get started in this rapidly growing field today.