User Experience Design or as it is more commonly known as UX Design is the collection of techniques used in the design of products to provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. UX design is commonly referenced in regard to how persons interact with technology, be it software or hardware. Still, it applies to the end-to-end experience a person has with any product or service. Think of the “skip intro” feature on Netflix that makes it much binge-watching your favorite shows much more seamless or an ergonomic mouse that eases the stress on your hands during those long hours of typing or coding. Thoughtful design practices such as there are the main focus of the local community of designers, known as the UI/UX Designer Network Jamaica.
This community was founded in January 2021 by Janice Alexander, a UX designer in Jamaica. She had been in the industry for a while and noticed a lack of cohesive understanding in the space. “I probably only knew one other designer and there was no space to meet anyone. I wondered why nobody had done this,” she said in our interview. The space, she thought, should offer support for local UI/UX designers as well as an outlet for them to talk about the challenges they face.
The community goal has extended past that in some ways. “It’s two parts. It’s supported but it’s also education. There is a lot of misinformation about UX as a discipline and also a general lack of information where there isn’t [misinformation].”
According to Janice Alexander, people who want to get into UI/UX design, such as long-time designers wanting to specialize, or people who want to jump straight into the area, may not know where to start. Therefore, there is design education available within the community. There is also a strong focus on bringing businesses up to speed on the value of good design in creating pleasant and profitable experiences for customers.
This community usually meets once a month where they discuss various UX topics, and host hands-on workshops as well as portfolio reviews for those who request them. Plans for other activities to better facilitate the needs of newcomers to UX design who currently make up more than 50% of the group. . Hopes for the future include a state of UX report for Jamaica, which would look into what’s happening in the space, backed by research that answers the questions of why it is happening and what should happen next.
“When things go back to ‘kind of normal, we’re looking forward to in-person meet-ups and a conference.” She said, “I think we’re always trying new things in the spirit of designers. Always trying to see what sticks and what doesn’t and see what we can continue to learn from it. “
The culture of the community is centered around collaboration, support, and education. “In my experience in the Jamaican business culture, there seems to be a general fear of asking questions or asking for help. This [UI/UX group] is a place where if you have a question, even if it sounds like a ridiculous question, we encourage you to ask it. This is how we’ll grow”, says Janice.
If you’re still not convinced of the value of learning more about the field, then perhaps consider another perspective. The number of individuals who interact with technology in their daily lives has increased significantly, especially with the current necessity for communication. The constant exposure to technology means customers are less tolerant of poor or difficult digital has experienced. Companies are realizing that and are focusing more and more on understanding how to design products that will enrich the user’s life. A pleased user leads to a successful product and so the request for UX designers in the industry has been booming.
Becoming a UX designer is a viable option for persons who are interested in building great products. If you’re looking to get into tech, switch careers or figure out your next step after university, the path of a UX designer is worth considering. The UX/UI Designer Network Jamaica is a great place to find support and guidance from persons in the field to help you navigate a career in UX.
If you are a UI/UX designer, connect with the UX/UI Designer Network Jamaica on LinkedIn or send an email to [email protected].