• 21 Dec 2020 9:49 AM | Audrey Bryson (Administrator)

    Ask The Experts is a series in which we ask design leaders from our community common questions from UX professionals or those seeking a career in UX. This month we're covering distinctions between design roles. 

    In your opinion, what qualities distinguish senior designers from junior or lower-ranking designers? What would you recommend to designers looking to move into a senior role?  

     The core ability of a senior designer is to solve complex problems with usable and elegant designs. Key qualities of a senior user experience designer include: 

    1. In-depth understanding of the target users and key use cases
      We expect a senior designer to have excellent research skills. They should be able to partner with the right stakeholders, customers and users to get to this understanding and to verify design proposals. For technology companies, the users and use cases can be very technical. A senior designer has typically experiences with multiple complex products, which allows them to get up to speed to a new product quickly and contribute soon after they join the team.
    2. Command of design patterns and best practices
      A senior designer needs to be able to match users’ needs to relevant design patterns to figure out the best ones for each use case. In an enterprise setting where users work with several products from the same company, it is important for a senior designer to be aware of the different use cases of these design patterns across products so that the design they create for one product is not only usable, compelling but also cohesive with other products in the same system.
    3. Ability to design at different levels and recognize when to use which level
      In order to create a solid design solution, many design decisions need to be made at different levels. For example, if it is in the early stage of the product cycle, a concept design may be needed to get the team on the same page about a design direction or vision. During a specific feature design phase, detailed interaction behaviors, UI controls, wordings, accessibility features, etc. may need to be specified. A senior designer is expected to know how to work at different levels of designs and guide the team towards a solution, figuring out the right amount of detail at the right time.
    4. Capability to influence others
      Without the ability to inspire and call team members into action, a great design may only remain on paper. In order to get great designs into products, and into the hands of the users, a senior designer needs to be seen by the product team as a trusted advisor. They must be able to collaborate and motivate team members to implement the envisioned design.
    5. A big tool box, with a strategic mind
      A senior designer possesses key skills spanning across many areas, such as user research, illustrating user journeys, designing user flows and screen layouts, creating interactive prototypes, and communicating designs in a manner to inform, motivate and inspire the team. They typically have a large toolbox of skills that they can draw on to get a job done. In addition, a senior designer has the ability to transfer knowledge from one team to another. They can build on previous successes to influence at a higher level across the organization so that good design processes, methods and thinking are adopted by teams beyond the immediate ones they work with. Finally, we expect a senior designer to be able to mentor junior designers to help grow a team with key skills in research, design and collaboration.

    For someone looking to move into a senior role, we recommend developing the core skills of design and user research. Reflect and accumulate working knowledge with each project. Find opportunities to hone your soft skills—communication, collaboration and even negotiation. See if you can tie your specific work to larger missions at the division, organization or company level. Connect and work with people with different job titles and personalities. Seek opportunities to be a buddy or mentor for someone who is just starting their career in design. You do not have to be successful in all the challenges you take on, but you will go far if you treat each as an opportunity to learn and add to your toolbox, network and circle of influence."

    Huifang Wang, Senior Manager of User Experience Design 

     The best designers are the best collaborators. Senior designers have developed skills that are hard to teach - they know how to articulate decisions, listen, collaborate, and iterate based on feedback. Above all, they know that they are not the most important person in the room. The best design is not the most aesthetically pleasing one; instead, it's a design that meets both business and user needs. There is no way to come up with the perfect design without working closely with a cross-discipline team.

    Any designer looking to move into a senior role should understand that promotions can take time. Be patient. The most important thing for you to focus on is your career growth. What are you interested in learning? What experience or skills could help you be a better designer? Once you identify your focus areas, you can seek mentors to help guide your career path. Mentors could be in your local community (like the Triangle UXPA) or at your workplace. For more on mentorship, check out my 2017 article in User Experience Magazine."

    Andrew Wirtanen, Senior Product Designer

     Band level or formal rank certainly involves comfort and established success of wielding design skill.  In a more senior rank, one needs to independently and more effectively know how to design.  But, a senior team member also understands how to interface with other functions, manage stakeholders, and confidently operate within the larger context of the work.   I’d recommend early career designers study how to balance affecting the details (design output) while also affecting the bigger picture (project outcome)."     

    Aaron Stewart, Director Next UX & UX Research 

     To me, what makes someone a senior designer is the ability to handle uncertainty. Even if a designer is very skilled, if they need specific instructions or well-defined problems in order to make progress, it's hard to see them in a senior role because of the additional management or direction they require. For designers looking to move into a senior role, try to take a more active role during the initial phases of a project. Learning how to break a problem into manageable chunks and how to do meaningful work outside of standard design deliverables is key to being able to take on more responsibility."

    Erik Johnson, Co-Founder 
    Purpose UX

     To me, the difference is between working with an artist versus a communicator. While aesthetics are an important aspect of graphic design, the ability to communicate through visuals is critical for a successful designer. Understanding User Experience principles and practices is essential to successful communication and unfortunately lacking in many student and junior designers I encounter. At the most basic level we provide services to solve business problems. Pretty pictures alone don’t help the bottom line, effective communication does.”

    David Minton, Managing Partner 

     I would say that in my opinion, the qualities that distinguish senior designers from junior or lower-ranking designers is that a senior designer is expected to have years of experience and to have a larger toolkit of foundational understanding that should come standard with solutioning UX problems.  Also a senior designer should be able to see a problem and numerous solutions faster and clearer than a designer with not so much experience.  Senior designers should be adept in numerous digital and analog tools  and be more well-rounded across multiple UX disciplines such as Interaction Design, UI / Graphic arts design, Front-End knowledge, Information Architecture and have a good understanding of color theory.  A senior designer will likely be more empathetic to the user and have a greater understanding of personas and know to keep things in mind such as device usage, world usage, use-cases in workflows and accessibility concerns." 

    Anonymous Design Leader 

  • 17 Nov 2020 6:45 AM | Audrey Bryson (Administrator)

    Ask The Experts is a series in which we ask design leaders from our community common questions from UX professionals or those seeking a career in UX. This month we're covering Design Certifications. 

    In your opinion, what is the value of a UX Design certification? Do you feel this is valuable for design professionals or candidates to have? 

    If you feel that design certifications are important, are there any specific programs that you recommend? 

     We see relevant experiences, portfolio, skills, and education as more important than design certification in a job candidate. Because design is a broad space, you can consider a specialized certification to broaden and complement your strengths. For example, if your only experience/education is on visual design, educating yourself through a certification process on user research, human factors, or design thinking can better prepare you for a career in user experience design. We recommend that you select design certifications that allow you to work on a project that can be added to your portfolio. In other words, design certifications do not by themselves secure jobs. Demonstrated experiences, an enhanced portfolio, broadened knowledge and skills, some of which may be gained from design certifications, are more valuable to an employer.

    Here are some examples of design certifications:

    Huifang Wang, Senior Manager of User Experience Design 

     In your opinion, what is the value of a UX Design certification? Do you feel this is valuable for design professionals or candidates to have?

    UX certifications vary greatly. Some focus on a specific topic area (e.g., IAAP's accessibility certifications), and some are short boot camps that intend to teach you the basics of UX in a week. In general, certification programs can help you achieve your career goals. For example, a UX boot camp could be a first step in establishing your base knowledge in the field and figuring out your interests. 

    Keep in mind there is no accepted industry-wide UX certification, and it's simply impossible to claim expertise because you have a Nielsen Norman Group or Human Factors International certification. If you're thinking about a certification program, I think you should ask yourself, "will this help my career?" and not, "will this look good on my resume?". To be a great UX professional, you must make learning part of your career. Certification is not a destination, but it can be a milestone for your journey.

    If you feel that design certifications are important, are there any specific programs that you recommend?

    As a graduate of Bentley University's Masters in Human Factors in Information Design program, I would recommend their UX Boot Camp or Certificate Program because of high-quality instructors. You can apply credits earned from the certification to the Master's program."

    Andrew Wirtanen, Senior Product Designer

     A certification may help prove dedication and growing mastery to oneself.   That confidence lift carries intrinsic personal value.  I feel the outward value to others is dependent on context.   In an organization with relatively mature UX practice, awareness of the certification may create a moment of creditability among stakeholders or interviewers.  But the substance of what follows will govern what others think of your capabilities.   If the context for you is a rather constant change in stakeholders (e.g. in consulting or serial contract work), the credential may help land some consideration.  However, I’ve not seen UX hiring or stakeholder confidence pivot on UX Design certification.   I’d recommend pursuing any cert based on how it makes you feel about your own skills and passions."     

    Aaron Stewart, Director Next UX & UX Research 

     Certifications are useful when you don't have a body of work, portfolio, or recommendations to demonstrate your capability. I definitely look for certifications or degree programs in hiring for junior positions. That said, certifications only tell me that you have learned a skill, not how well you have mastered the ability to apply that skill. Therefore, a certification may get you an interview, but landing the job will depend upon how well my team and I think you will be able to execute those skills in a live project, based on your portfolio and interviews. The certification is a starting point, but we also look for the interpersonal skills required to collaborate with a team and interact with stakeholders." 

    Randy Early, Experience Manager 
    Atlantic BT

     For me and many others, the ability to explain your process to have a portfolio showcasing quality work is essential. For people already in the field, I think time is better spent working on actual project work than pursuing additional certifications (unless it's for a specific skill you need to acquire that you can't do "on the job"). Certificates can have value for candidates who lack a portfolio and don't have good opportunities to take on actual project work, but even then, I would encourage people to be creative about finding real projects before spending time and money in a certificate course. I don't know about specific programs as me and most designers I know did not go through that type of program."

    Erik Johnson, Co-Founder Purpose UX 
    Purpose UX

  • 06 Jul 2017 10:24 AM | La Tosca Goodwin (Administrator)

    On January 27, 2017, our special guest mentor on the mentorship Slack channel was Amanda Stockwell, owner of Stockwell Strategy and longtime researcher and strategist. Amanda answered question pertaining to UX research. The following is a summary of that Slack conversation.

    Research- Formative vs. Summative User Testing

    by Amanda Stockwell:

    Topics discussed:

    • What’s the difference between Formative and Summative User Testing?
    • Recruiting the right users
    • Formulating questions well, especially when you need to provide specific pieces of domain knowledge
    • Preventing bias and moderating tips

    The following captures the key questions and takeaways from the session.

    Q: Can you start by explaining the difference between Formative and Summative User Testing?

    A: Formative research is done at the onset of a project and use to explore existing problems, general needs, and generally gather insights to help guide the way

    Summative testing is done after a solution is complete (or at least part is complete) and you're looking to verify how successful you were at hitting the goals you set

    Sometimes the methods are the same, but the goal of the research is different.

    Q:  I have heard arguments for not needing to recruit from a target audience so long as you properly set up the initial scenario. How would you respond to that argument?

    A: I whole heartedly believe that you get better research results when you use real representative users. Theoretically, if you're working on something online, and someone is familiar with the internet, they should be able to figure most things out and you'll be able to identify the absolute worst, most glaring issues.

    However, the most glaring set of issues to the general public may not be a big deal to your user set, and you might completely miss things that are big issues to your users.  It’s especially important to recruit your specific target users when working on the figuring out an overall workflow, content, labeling, organization, and navigation.

    Q: Can you talk about how to best write usability test tasks?

    A: Usability testing is all about exploring how easy or not something is to use and specifically designed to have participants interact with something (could be a website, mobile app, paper prototype, etc.) and perform tasks. The researcher observes users’ interactions and may give the participants specific tasks to complete.

    The first tip to make sure you set up a scenario that makes sense to the real users and is written from their perspective. Give the participant some context so they can connect your website/application/whatever to their real goals and get in the mindset of truly performing the task.

    You then need to create tasks that would be realistic for your test participants’ real-life goals. For instance, if you’re testing a sporting-goods website with budget-conscious parents, a reasonable task might be something like, “Find your child a pair of soccer cleats for under $35.”

    This task is specific, but it’s not biased and won’t lead the participants in any way. Be careful to avoid including terms that a participant could look for on the page or moving users down a path you’d prefer them to take.

    Q: Do you have any suggestions for writing usability test questions for when you need to provide the user some contextual information (such as credit card number or account id) without leading them?

    A: If there is general domain knowledge that you need to assess in your participants, you can start with a short set of interview questions designed to glean what they already know, then have a few versions of tasks written and tailor the way you ask the questions to the level of knowledge they already have.

    If there is specific information they need along the way, you can just give them the general tasks and tell them to let you know when they need specific data.

    For instance, I recently did a study on the tax forms people need to fill out to be able to serve liquor. I told them to just go about as they thought they would, and any time they thought they needed a piece of information (like a tax code or account information) to let me know, and I would provide it at the time. I had index cards printed out with that information so I could hand it to them one at a time, but if they didn’t know to ask for it, I didn’t provide it.

    Q: What is the best way to prevent bias of the moderator/UX Designer/Researcher?

    A: The first thing is to be aware that everyone is naturally inclined to lead people one way or another and you need to practice writing the questions in a neutral way. It's little, subtle differences that make a big difference. For instance - "Tell me about x" is WAY more open than something like, "How did you like..."

    Regardless of how well-written your script, it can be tempting to stray from the plan or blurt things out. To help with this, practice being quiet as much as possible, avoiding temptation to blurt things out, and find ways to keep your hands busy, such as holding the script, taking notes (even pretend ones!) or even gripping your hands behind your back.

    It’s also helpful to get feedback from colleagues and perform a pilot session, especially with usability tests. Another person can help you identify wording issues or places that might be confusing. Although not always possible, it can also help to record your research sessions and watch yourself later.

    Really, moderating is a difficult skill but the best way to get better is to practice, practice, practice!

  • 27 Jun 2017 7:28 AM | Michelle Chin

    In May, we celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) at SAS with A11yRTP. (A11yRTP is the local accessibility meetup and if you’re not currently a member, we encourage you to join!) We kicked off the event with opening remarks, two great speakers, and a hand-ons lab for attendees to try simulations of impairments and assistive technology (AT). This recap includes a comprehensive list of accessibility resources.

    Why is accessibility important?

    When most hear about “accessibility” they’re not sure what it means exactly or it sounds complicated master or implement. Ed Summers from SAS and co-organizer of the A11yRTP meetup gave some opening remarks of why accessibility is important. He said think of it as an “absence of barriers” - with that individuals can get an education, diplomas, and jobs and maintain dignity and independence.

    It’s not so much about checking off boxes to pass a standard, but it’s more about providing the same opportunities for everyone. Ed referenced the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Preamble, which also gives a good overview on the foundations of accessibility.

    Accessibility in Today’s World

    We had the pleasure of hosting two speakers for the event. Ryan Benson, the Lead Technical Subject Matter Expert for Section 508 and the Center for Disease Control and Liani Yirka, Accessibility and Inclusion Coordinator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

    Ryan provided an overview of different aspects of accessibility and some introductory tips that we can all consider when designing websites or software. As part of his job, he consults colleagues on the accessibility of sites and software. He mentioned that it’s always best to proactively consult with accessibility experts early on in the process to avoid having costly and last-minute changes at the end.

    Liani Yirka is the Accessibility & Inclusion Coordinator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It’s her job to ensure an equal visitor experience for all audiences. As most of us are UX designers in the digital realm, it was fascinating to hear what it’s like to consider accessibility from a museum’s perspective.

    Accessibility Lab

    After our speakers, we had hands-on lab time that included several activity stations, where people could simulate different impairments (e.g., blindness, mobility issues) and try out assistive technology (screen readers, wheelchairs). The idea behind the lab was to gain empathy and understanding through first-hand experience.

    Some of our stations included:

    • Vision impairments - low vision, color blindness, no vision; how to use a cane to navigate your physical surrounding
    • Screen readers - how people with vision impairments can navigate the web and apps
    • Accessibility checkers - how these are used to check your site to for accessibility
    • Motor skill impairments - simulation of low dexterity and tools you can use to navigate the web and apps
    • Mobility - using a wheelchair to get around

    It was a lot of fun trying the simulations, the tools used to assist people, and the tools which help test for accessibility.


    As UX professionals, you can help design inclusively. By making your site or product accessible, you’re making it easier for everyone to use - including those who don’t rely on assistive technology.

    To help everyone learn more about accessibility and the tools out there that can be used, we’ve compiled a huge list of resources. We recommend starting small and trying a tool from each section at a time or it can be overwhelming.

    Why accessibility matters

    General accessibility information

    General accessibility checkers

    Developer resources

    Standards and laws

    WCAG also has two companion standards:

    Vision Disabilities

    People’s visual disabilities often fall into two categories. People who have low vision mainly (or at least often) use their eyes to interact with technology. People with no (functional) vision mainly use their ears and hands to interact with technology. People with no (functional) vision use screen readers.

    Some common eye diseases/conditions include:

    Screen Readers

    Screen readers are used by people with little to no functional vision. Screen readers let you use a computer, phone or tablet with your hands and ears, rather than with your eyes. They announce on-screen content and provide special ways of interacting with a device.

    • JAWS (Windows) - there’s a free trial

    • NVDA (Windows) - it’s free!

    • VoiceOver (Mac) - To get started with VoiceOver on Mac OS X, go to System Preferences > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Open VoiceOver Training, and go through the training exercises.

    • VoiceOver (iOS)

    • TalkBack (Android)

    Screen Magnifiers

    People with low vision sometimes use screen magnifiers to make content on screen easier to see.

    Tools for simulating or checking

    Motor Disabilities

    Some individuals might not have the ability to use a mouse and have to navigate with a keyboard. Some examples include those with temporary conditions (e.g., broken hand), those with arthritis, and those who are paralyzed. Keyboard shortcuts are also great for power users of your product or site.


    Navigating web browsers

    Using mobile devices

    Cognitive Disabilities

    Auditory Disabilities

    Some individuals might be fully hearing impaired or only have partial hearing. This can be permanent or temporary (e.g., ear infection, can’t hear the TV at a sports bar). In this case, videos and sound files can be transcribed.

    Writing for Accessibility

    Organizing Your Accessibility Work

    At SAS we organize our accessibility work into five categories: Mobility, Low Vision, No (functional) Vision, Hearing / Multimedia, and Cognitive / other. These categories help us stay focused on the needs of users with a wide range of abilities during the agile development process.

    • Mobility – covers the needs of people with motor impairments that prevent them from using a mouse or touch interface.

    • No (functional) Vision – relates to vision impairments that prevent a person from using their eyes to interact with a computer or mobile device. People without functional vision use screen readers such as JAWS or VoiceOver.

    • Low vision – involves vision impairments that reduce a person’s ability to see clearly, distinguish colors, and so on. This category covers people who primarily use their eyes with a computer or mobile device, and who may need features like high contrast, zoom, etc.

    • Cognitive and other – relates to impairments that reduce a person’s: memory; problem-solving; attention, reading, or verbal comprehension; math comprehension; or visual comprehension (WebAIM). This category also includes considerations for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

    • Multimedia – covers auditory and visual impairments in relation to audio and video content. Note that multimedia content is typically created by a different group of people and processes outside of our R&D organization.

    We break down the 39 success criteria we use during accessibility testing -- the 38 WCAG 2.0 level AA criteria plus one, 1.4.6 Contrast Enhanced, from level AAA -- using these five categories as well. The paper Accessibility and SAS® Visual Analytics Viewers: Which Report Viewer is Best for Your Users' Needs? is an example of a project where we used these five categories as a framework to organize our work.


    Thanks to the volunteers from SAS, the Governor Moorehead School, and Duke Web Services for helping at the activity stations and making this event a success. Thanks to SAS for the event space and special thanks to Donna Faircloth for coordinating and Jesse Snooke for coordinating and helping with the list of resources.

    We’re looking forward to next year’s GAAD!

  • 06 Jun 2017 7:45 AM | Anonymous

    The Triangle UXPA 2017-18 board election results are in! Meet the executive council officers: 

    President Julie Grundy
    Treasurer Rajiv Ramarajan  
    Membership & Sponsorship Lauren Hirsch
    Student Memberships Shaade Oliveros-Tavares
    Professional Events Andrew Wirtanen &
    Joe Bond
    Community Events Michelle Chin &
    Mary Fran Thompson
    Book Clubs Willamina O'Keeffe & 
    Nate Kacirek
    Beth Fowler
    Marketing & Communications
    Social Media
    Bendte Fagge
    Heather Young
    Past President Susan Tacker

    Learn about the executive council offices.

    Become a member of Triangle UXPA.

  • 24 Mar 2017 10:44 AM | La Tosca Goodwin (Administrator)

    In order to better serve our growing number of mentees, we recently started an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on our Mentorship Slack channel. Mentees are able to submit topics they are interested in learning more about, and then a mentor commits to an hour on Fridays. These mentors monitor the channel and answer any questions thrown at them about the particular topic of interest. The wealth of knowledge that has been shared is great and the participants have expressed it is a valuable series. Well we thought, "why keep all this great information to the confines of the Slack-verse?" So, periodically, we will create a post highlighting the nuggets of wisdom. I mean, cause really it's stuff every UX professional can benefit from.

    On February 3, 2017, we held an AMA about deliverables. Our mentor on-board was Audrey Bryson, UX Designer for Extron Electronics. Below you will find her write up based on our Slack conversation. Enjoy!

    AMA content

    by Audrey Bryson:


    Sketches are the most appropriate for getting ideas out of your brain and onto paper. They are perfect for brainstorming by yourself or within a group.  The quality of sketches (straightness of lines, colors, alignment, etc) does not matter. The only thing that matters is if you are able to effectively communicate your ideas.

    Sketches are usually not shown to stakeholders unless you are showing proof that you thought of a lot of ideas before you settled on a higher quality wireframe to show them. Sketches are also a great way to show thought process in a portfolio.

    Medium: Paper, pencil, pen, white board, dry erase markers, etch a sketch, etc.



    Wireframes are usually a more polished version of a sketch. They indicate the general structure of  website/application, and the positioning of all of the elements. If you're having trouble describing what a wireframe is, and what its purpose is to a stakeholder, you can tell them it's similar to a template, and provides a preview of a possible final product.

    Wireframes can be sketched by hand or created using a digital tool such as Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, etc. It is best to keep color, images, or other high fidelity elements out of wireframes. They are a good way to think abstractly about the needs of a web product or application.  I recommend if you show a wireframe to a client, make sure your lines are straight,  but also make sure it doesn't look too complete, the point of a wireframe is to show ideas in a low fidelity manner.

    Medium: sketched by hand or created using a digital tool such as Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, etc.



    Workflow for the most part is synonymous with a user task flow. Creating a separate workflow from the visual design is essential to keeping the focus on the tasks rather than the product. Workflows are driven by user goals, and the interaction designer needs to think about each step in the process to achieve that goal. It’s helpful good to include alternative paths, or what a failed path looks like, as well as a successful path.

    Workflows can be written in a paragraph form, in a numbered list, or in a flow chart. Your audience will determine what is most appropriate. With a numbered or written format you can easily get locked in to a linear flow, which is not always appropriate. Decision making and branching is a little easier to convey with a flow chart.

    Medium: Paragraphs, numbered lists can be created in any text editor. Flow charts commonly created in Adobe illustrator, Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch



    Wireflows combine wireframes and taskflows to create a more contextual way of showing user interaction throughout an application.  This deliverable is generally easier for stakeholders to understand. Wireflows can be low or high fidelity. Unless you have an existing visual design, low fidelity is recommended to save time.

    Medium: Wireflows can be created on paper or digital medium. Most designers tend to use programs like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, Axure to create wireflows.


    Prototypes Lo-Fidelity:

    Prototypes are good for testing, handing off to developers, or describing micro-interactions and showing how  they will work in your design.

    If time, resources and budgetary concerns are short, paper prototyping is the way to go. Essentially this is just sketching or printing out physical versions of your design and presenting it to your audience. To show interaction, have the user "click" or "tap" on an area of the prototype and then flip the page to show an interaction such as a drop-down menu or a new screen.

    Medium: paper, pencils, stencils, printed out wireflows.


    Prototypes – High Fidelity:

    High Fidelity prototypes are what you want to test with users, and present to stakeholders before you ship a final product. Ideally testing a fully operational prototype would happen before the end of the design cycle to allow the development team to reflect on the results and make changes before actually sending products into the real world. But as user professionals know this is not always the case.

    High Fidelity is also good because it can tell you about user's general attitudes about a product. Color, interactions, animations, affect the satisfaction and usability of a product too, so if you can test those elements do it. You don't even need to include a question in your usability script about their thoughts about the visual design, your participants will just offer it up!

    Finally going for high fidelity and getting as close to the real thing is important because you are likely to uncover other issues that were originally outside the scope of your design. You can get away with murder in sketches and designs, but when it comes to implementation that is a whole other animal.  Maybe you're linking to a youtube video, but the ads that appear are overly distracting to your users. Maybe you're designing a mobile site, and it isn't until you test it on a phone outside that you realize the contrast isn't high enough. Small things like that can make or break a product.

    Medium: UX designers can create high fidelity and interactive designs in axure, invision, indesign, or even in html/css/javascript/php (any coding language). It's up to you to determine what is best for your team.


  • 16 Feb 2017 10:52 AM | Anonymous

    The Executive Council of  the Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (Triangle UXPA) and the leaders of the Ladies That UX-Durham (LTUX DUR) professional organization recently asked us to conduct a survey of local UX professionals. The goal of the survey was to determine salary levels and demographics of UX professionals in the Triangle area.

    We received 146 responses from the launch of the survey on 9/2/16 until it closed on 10/19/16. This is a response rate of approximately 7.8%, based on the number of members in both Triangle UXPA and LTUX DUR. The survey was open, though not directed to, the public. Therefore, there may be  responses by UX professionals who are not in either organization.

    Check the survey – Triangle UX Salary Survey.pdf

  • 14 Nov 2016 1:19 PM | Anonymous

    Happy 10th anniversary, Triangle UXPA.

    We've come a long way since our inception in 2006 as TriUPA. Take a look at our history to see how we've grown!


  • 07 Oct 2016 8:35 AM | La Tosca Goodwin (Administrator)

    Mentoring is very similar to coaching. Like any sports coach worth his whistle and stopwatch, the goal of a mentor is to pass on knowledge and wisdom that they have gleaned from personal and professional experiences. Equipped with this foundation, the next generation can build on it to further their craft.

    Sometimes, though the hardest thing is getting started with mentoring. It can all start, however, with a simple conversation.

    Triangle UXPA’s First Meet and Greet for Mentorship Program

    We recently had a meet and greet event for the Triangle UXPA’s mentorship program. Using the Beverage User Interface (BUI) platform, we kept it casual and informal. The idea was to help facilitate that initial encounter between mentor and mentee. We had a great turnout with 34 people attending.

    One of our mentors had this to say, “The meet and greet was a much more organic and comfortable way to connect mentors and mentees. As a mentor, I was able to get a better sense of what the mentees want and need, and I think a lot of the mentees felt that this informal setting was an easier way to break the ice and find a mentor with whom they have good chemistry,” Courtney Hall, Sr. UX Designer at Extron Electronics.

    What Can You Expect from the Program?

    You can expect exactly what you are willing to put into it.

    We started the night off with a short presentation on what people should expect to give and get from the program. Some highlights:

    #1 Concern of Mentors: “Do I have anything to offer?”

    The short answer is “Yes.”

    Some of the hesitation and apprehension I hear a lot from prospective mentors is that they don’t know enough to mentor. That is a major misconception. If you currently work or have worked in the UX field in a professional capacity—at any level—you have something to offer.

    "At first, I thought that I didn’t have anything to offer and that my level of knowledge was nothing special.  After talking with people, I realized that I may not have all the answers, but I do have something to offer and can help people with what I do know," said Don Church, UX Designer at Extron Electronics.

    Everyone can agree that being mentored is a good thing, but there is considerable convincing needed sometimes to get folks involved as a mentor. So, why mentor?

    • Enriching lives and careers
    • Passing on knowledge to help the next generation
    • You learn as you teach. Sometimes holes can be revealed in your own professional development as you teach your craft to others.
    • The teacher can also become the student. As a seasoned professional, you will have the expertise and experience that can only happen from actually just doing it—whatever it is. But those being mentored can sometimes offer young eyes, fresh ideas and new technologies to your toolbox.

    Some helpful hints to be a successful mentor:

    • Set real expectations for your time commitment and the type of help you are willing to offer upfront.
    • Give honest but helpful feedback. Make sure to treat your mentees as colleagues not underlings.
    • Help guide them in the journey toward their goals by paying attention to deficiencies in their basic skill set needed to succeed as a UX professional.
    • Be knowledgeable, but vulnerable. If there is something you don’t know—admit it and then be resourceful.

    #1 Question from Mentees: “How do I get started?”

    Answer: Reach out to a mentor.

    Mentees, the best advice to you is to start making connections.  The Meet and Greet was just one way to network. In addition to our list of available mentors, the Triangle UXPA also holds events all time and these are great ways to meet potential mentors. Remember though, it’s up to you to make the initial contact.

    When you do reach out here are some suggestions to make it go smoother:

    • Do your research and know what you want out of the relationship. “What is UX?” is not a good question to lead with.
    • Set realistic goals—what is the end game? Do you want to land your dream job? Are you looking to learn more before making a transition?
    • Make sure you find the right fit—a mentor who can commit the amount of time you need, and who has the skills you are interested in.
    • Be willing to put in the time and effort to make this successful for you.
    • Be willing to receive honest and helpful feedback.

    A Couple Success Stories with the Program So Far – This could be you!

    Joe and Andrew

    “Mentorship relationships often depend on the level of motivation – especially of the mentee,” said Andrew Wirtanen, Lead Product Designer at Citrix. “Joe immersed himself in the UX literature I gave him to read. That was the primary reason he was able to kick start his UX career.”

    In Joe’s case, his mentors simply guided his path and he took the initiative to barrel ahead. Joe is now able to pass on his knowledge and experience as a mentor himself.

    Crystal and Lucas

    Crystal Ibke is currently being mentored by Lucas Brauer, Interaction Designer. “It's been great working with Crystal, and I cannot say enough about how smart and competent she already is as a UX designer,” Lucas said.

    “We are working on the redesign of a website for a Duke and UNC student org called The Bridge. We have done persona development, stakeholder and user interviews, usability testing on an older version of the site (which is no longer live), and more,” he said.

    The design team for this project includes Crystal, and two developers that recently graduated from the Iron Yard code academy in Durham.

    So How Can We Make the Mentorship Experience Even Better?

    It wouldn’t be a group of UX folks if we weren’t always looking for ways to improve our experience. Here is a list of some suggestions from attendees:

    • A forum to practice presenting and discussing deliverables
    • A way to spread the wealth of knowledge and expertise in our mentor pool—not just limit the experience to a one-on-one relationship
    • Slack channel for mentees and mentors
    • More group project opportunities
    • Mentor forum or message board

    What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment.

  • 20 Sep 2016 11:38 AM | Chad Haefele

    Headshot of Cory Lebson"User Experience" as a label is a broad umbrella, and it often doesn't accurately describe the work we do or serve a purpose in recruiting for jobs. Cory Lebson, author of The UX Careers Handbook, spoke with our members last week about how to carve out your own piece of the UX Cheesecake.

    Cory wrote a blog post all about the cheesecake metaphor and just why he chose to use it as a cover image for his book. Each type of cheesecake has its own flavor, but there's still commonalities linking them together. And while each type of User Experience work requires unique skills, there's still a common basis that we all share.

    UX involves three broad categories of work:

    • Designing stuff (like Interaction Design, Information Architecture, and Visual Design)
    • Evaluating stuff (like User Research, Accessibility, and Human Factors)
    • Strategizing about stuff (like UX Strategy, Content Strategy, and Customer Experience)

    Those tasks and skills are applied in lots of different ways. You might be primarily a user researcher or information architect, focused in on your own preferred slice of the cheesecake. And each role within UX work has unique degrees of designing, evaluating, and strategizing. 

    "Career advancement comes not from throwing it all out there, but saying I'm an expert at this." - Cory Lebson

    Nobody can be experts in all of these areas. Cory put this in very concrete terms: If you start out by billing yourself as a UX Unicorn, master of all slices of the cheesecake, then nobody knows just which slice you're truly an expert at and you might get passed you over for a specialist job. It's very possible to become that unicorn someday, but it's important to start a career by focusing in one area. Build that expertise and then someday later think about branching out.

    Telling Your Story

    It's important to have your resume and portfolio tell your story and show your strengths. Which of the slices are your specialty? Make sure your story matches the job description you're applying for.

    But your story goes beyond just the job application itself. Cory said that employers will obviously Google applicants, and it's important to control your brand in what pops up.  He suggested Googling yourself to check if the results tell a story of the work you do. If you say you're a User Researcher or other specialist, your web presence better back it up. 

    Cory emphasized controlling:Cory Lebson speaking to TriUXPA members.

    But your brand alone won't get you that dream job. 

    Steps to help manage your search process:

    • Tell your network you're looking
    • Post your job search on social media
    • Go to UX events and network
    • Check out online job boards
    • Create a custom job board feed to stay current on listings
    During discussion at the end, an attendee asked about the usefulness and quality of an education via a UX bootcamp. Cory replied that "Doing a bootcamp is a good thing," but emphasized that it's also important to supplement a bootcamp with outside work. You should also do your research on the bootcamp in question, and see what slices of the cheesecake they're strongest in. Do they align with your interests and career goals?

    How do you think Cory's insights will impact your next job search? Does his advice and experience fit with your own?

    Thanks to Cory for spending some time with us, and to everyone who attended. We hope to see you next time!

    (Event photo by Andrew Wirtanen)



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