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UNI Students Study User Experience Design

Matthew Wilson September 17, 2013 Advertising, Computation, IDS General Comments Off on UNI Students Study User Experience Design

Experiential Marketing (MKTG 3159-01) is a new experimental course being offered this fall in the Marketing Department that has a great deal of relevance for .ids students who wish to study user experience design.

User experience design is the discipline of analyzing and designing interactions within a digital environment in order to create a satisfying experience for a website visitor, mobile app user, or game player.  The advent of social media and mobile technology has created many new ways for organizations and brands to create unique and memorable interactive experiences for their customers, users, and fans.  At the same time, some interactions with digital technology need to be intuitive, brief, and transparent so that users can quickly get things done and move on.

The number of agencies that specialize in creating digital user experiences has been growing in Iowa over the past decade.  These digital-centric agencies include companies such as Visual Logic, Far Reach, Spinutech, Williams InteractiveShift Interactive, Fresk, Catchfire Media and Bit Method. Additionally, Iowa firms that specialize in offering digital products such as BannoDwolla, and Tikly have seen much success and growth.  Job titles such as “User Experience Architect“, “UX Designer“, “Information Architect” and “Interaction Designer” are becoming increasingly common to find both in tech agencies and in-house development teams at mid-to-large sized companies.

Books on User Experience Design

Readings for the class include seminal texts on UI design such as The Design of Everyday Things (Donald Norman) and Don’t Make Me Think (Steve Krug), as well as contemporary texts on the practice of UX such as Communicating Design (Dan M. Brown) and Agile Experience Design (Lindsay Ratcliffe and Marc McNeill).

The class will be working with a real client (UNI’s Information Technology Services group) on a real UX project (rethinking their public-facing website).  This week, Peter Thompson-Yezek and Ryan Murphy from UNI-ITS spoke to the class to explain what ITS does, who its users are, and what they need.

“We asked them if they were familiar with the UNI-ITS site and everybody’s hands went up,” Thompson-Yezek said. “Then we asked, ‘so what do you think of it?’ and all the hands slowly went down… (laughing)… But they’re right!  We know we need to come up with a more user-focused approach.”

Peter Thompson-Yezek and Ryan Murphy educate students on UNI's ITS group

Over the next 12 weeks, student teams will be focused on developing concepts for a new UNI-ITS user experience using a user-centered design approach.  From the development of user personas based on  user needs to the design of screen wireframes and experience prototypes, students will take the concepts they learn about and creatively apply them to a real-world challenge as they produce deliverables that can then help UNI’s ITS group as they develop their next generation website.

I’ll be posting updates during the semester on our progress – I’m excited to see what our student teams come up with!

 

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Matthew Wilson is an Instructor in Marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. Matthew teaches courses in Digital Advertising, Advertising Campaign Development, and Experiential Marketing. He is passionate about the Interactive Digital Studies program at UNI and is also the faculty advisor for AAF-UNI, the college chapter of the American Advertising Federation. Matthew is a creative director with 18 years of experience working in advertising, interactive design, video production and experience design.