A UX Approach to Front End Development

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 User Experience Design, or UX design as it is more commonly called, is defined by Wikipedia as  the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product”.  The thing is, if you ask 10 UX designers what UX means to them, you’re bound to get 10 different answers.

To me, UX design means always considering who will be using my creations, what they hope to achieve when doing so and ultimately why one might choose my product, site or service over someone else’s.  I try to keep in mind that development (and technology in general) is a very human-centric business.  After all even the most amazing tech products can be killed in a heartbeat by the simple denial of every day consumers to adopt it.

So why should a front-end developer care about UX Design? Truth is, if you work in the production of technology in any capacity,  you should always care about UX design.  It ‘s easy to drop the dreaded “its not my job” line  (especially if you are a developer working at larger shop that might employ a full-time UX designer) but it still remains that UX design is important and should sneak its way into ever step of the product life cycle.  Starting first and foremost with those writing the code.

As developers, it is our job to ensure that the code is top-notch.  It is what is expected of us. However, like any good artist, our desire to care about our creations should go beyond the mere phase of production.  A good painter does not simply create, package, ship and move on.  They care about where a piece of work is going, how it will be displayed and who will be enjoying it- and developers should too.

I try to approach my code with a similar sense of empathy.  As much as I understand that I am excepted to develop and then ship, I enjoy being more involved in my creations then simply just producing code. I choose to start my development process by researching and writing down what I suspect the goals of  my end user base will be, then begin developing around those insights.

This approach gives me a better understanding of whether the user interactions, processes and overall experience of someone interfacing with my code will be a positive one. Taking the path of least resistance as a means to an end is genetically ingrained in human beings, and it has a huge impact on what technology we choose to use ( Apple products anyone?).  With that in mind, I want to make sure people find my creations easy to navigate and enjoy interacting with them as much as I have enjoyed brining them into existence.

As developers, we will always be expected to be concerned with tasks.  But on your next dev project,  try pushing the thought of tasks aside and start first by thinking about goals.  More specifically, the goal of the end user.  A little empathy will go a long way. It’s ultimately what separates humans from machines – and lets not forget that  at the end of the day we code for the user;  and users are people too.

 

 

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From Snowboarder to Developer

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If you would have told me 4 years ago that I would be going back to school  to become a developer I would have laughed. Not because a younger, more naive Logan thought coding was silly, or only for really really smart people (although I am easily amazed by developers and sometimes I feel the latter to be true)… I was just way too caught up in the excitement of working in the skateboard / snowboard industry.  It was tough enough for fresh university grad with an Art’s degree to find a job serving tables, let alone work in an industry they have always loved. Not to mention I got the chance to  become good friends with some of the most talent snowboarders  in the world, all while making decent money and still getting to riding a snowboard 4 times a week.  Needless to say, my only focus back then was on the moment; but like every moment, it passed by quickly.

I slowly understood that my current life had  had two major barriers in its future.  1) I am a Canadian and 90% of the action sports industry jobs are located in America and 2) regardless of the industry, denying the fact that you long to do creative work for a living will never lead to happiness.

After putting the action sports world behind me, I had a stretch of taking jobs I was not overly excited about ( for the sake of making money). After getting fed up with spending my best energy building other peoples dreams,   I have finally decided to do something for myself. Something that provides me with everything I am looking for: autonomy, creativity and the ability to physically build the long list of ideas l have stuck in my head.

Starting April 14th I will be attending HackerYou‘s  full-time Front-End Development bootcamp.  In a 9 week period,  I will be learning the in’s and out’s of HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery,  API’s, WordPress Development and design theory.  I hope to transform my future from being someone who worked adjacently with creative & tech departments (and was always envious of their amazing skills), to being a full-time savvy creative.

Follow me as a start my journey to becoming a professional Front-End Developer. There will be successes, failures, stresses, high-fives and hopefully some insight for anyone out there considering development  as a career path.  Happy coding!