On UX Deliverables, Hardware and Being a UX Designer and a Fine Artist

I answer questions about UX, Information Architecture and other topics on Quora. A selection of these answers will be reposted on Medium with occasional, minor editing for clarity. I answered the following questions in May.

What are the UX design deliverables?

Answered May 24

Early in the history is ASIST’s Information Architecture Summit, there was a Canadian company called Nform that created a deck of 26 cards with a different deliverable on each. Every attendee got a deck of 26 of the same cards and your job during the event was to find 25 people with the other cards to trade. They did it a couple years in a row, which means over 50 deliverables represented and counting.

There are so many UX deliverables, it would be difficult to list them all in a single post. Some deliverables are meant to be presented to clients and some are used internally and presented to teams to understand challenges, user segments and potential design treatments. As teams move toward agile, rather than waterfall design methods, clients are seeing fewer deliverables and more results.

Some of my favorite internal deliverables are user journey maps, user videos and good old wireframes.

  • User journey maps are great for identifying the motivations, touch points, and blocks. My latest favorite book on the subject is Donna Lichaw’s The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Lovefrom Rosenfeld Media. Story maps can help you outline minute processes within an application, all the way up to the basic human need your product is addressing. It is so simple but very powerful.
  • I like user research videos because they tell so much more than a hundred lines of findings in a spreadsheet. The passion and frustration that real users show in video are priceless.
  • Wireframes are so old school, but essential for communicating design layout. Even pencil sketches are pretty amazing communication tools. There is a reason one of the most popular tools out there today is called Sketch.

Want to dive in more? Check out the Deliverables and Documentation articles on on Boxesandarrows.com.

What is the best hardware option for a UX designer?

Answered May 21

I get by with my trusty MacBook Air and an iPad mini with retina screen for most design, draw and present functions.

Since I have a home business, I don’t have access to a lot of fancy equipment for production and testing, but I don’t really need fancy. I have an iPhone, but also test on my husband’s Google phone and my kid’s Androids. There are many good drawing and presentation programs that work well on iPad for my purposes. But you may want the larger screen for drawing. My MacBook Air is portable, light and travels well. My husband uses a Dell laptop with a touch screen, which is good for presentations and analytics. He’s more of the spreadsheet person. It works great with InDesign, Microsoft and Adobe products. We use a lot of cloud applications, like OneNote, Dropbox, InVision, Google Docs, Slack, etc to communicate with our team, which is international, and these work on all our devices. If any of the newer MacBooks have a touch screen it’s a nice feature. We have a few older model Macs and PCs with old versions of browsers which we use, very occasionally, for testing.

As for specific design programs, Sketch is a popular for UX design, but right now I believe it only runs on a Mac. There are other good programs for drawing but if you want to learn Sketch, you need a Mac at least for now. I don’t know a lot about motion graphics and don’t do a lot of processing, but am pretty sure my MacBook wouldn’t have the power of computers with better game engines. Someone else may be able to speak to that. My daughter is happy with her Alienware laptop for 3D rendering and game modding, but that’s more than most UX people do. I have a friend who renders massive amounts of Geospatial data and video processing and uses an enormous Alienware machine and 40 pounds of additional equipment that he wheels around in a cart. You probably won’t need that….

Can you be UX designer and fine artist at the same time?

Answered May 12

Yes. I have a friend, Amy Bassin, who is a UX designer and also exhibits fine art photography at shows in New York City and has worked in documentary film as well. One of her photographs was exhibited in a “show” curated for the space shuttle Endeavour and kept the astronauts company for the mission. My husband, a former banker, also has exhibited at galleries in NYC.

One doesn’t need to limit their work to their day job. If making art moves you, make art.