Teachers: Natural-born UX designers

2013. Oakland High School. My AP biology class after they finished their year-end projects.
  1. It was funny, and therefore enjoyable to read
  2. It took a concept that was complicated and controversial and made it simple to understand
  • A keen knowledge and understanding of the subject matter
  • A keen knowledge and understanding of your users and audience…who they are, what pertinent skills they have, and what drives them or inhibits them from doing what you want them to do
  • An ability to make relationships between the subject matter and the users. You must know what interests your users about a particular subject, why they would spend their time learning about that subject, and how easily will they be able to understand the subject.

Teachers understand empathy and practice it daily.

Teachers have some serious skills in establishing relationships between a user and the subject matter. I taught varying levels of Biology to urban high school students across the United States. These students were not only of a different age than me, but also were of different economic status, race, culture, learning ability, life experience, and general maturity. In short, I had very little in common with the 130 or so students I was charged with teaching basic concepts of genetics and evolution each year. The cards were stacked against me, and if I didn’t try to learn my users, I would never have been able to teach them anything at all.

Transferring teaching skills to good UX

When it comes to design, companies must understand what they are hiring designers to do. Many companies want to hire a “UI/UX designer”, and ask that person to put a facelift on a website or app, then send the design specs to a team of engineers to build. This seems simple and easy enough, so why do designers need to get paid so much? The simply answer is that they are actually supposed to improve the product, and not just make it prettier.

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