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What I meant by my question was is user experience a stand alone job position, or is it a technical or artistic position that uses some principles of user experience design?

The reason I ask is because although I have a computer science degree, I am more interested in the psychological and human factors of user design, and not the technical aspects of the job (i.e.: using javascript, css, html, flash, etc...), or the artistic aspects (drawing graphic design images).

I feel like sometimes these jobs are asking for web developers and designers, which makes me wonder if user experience design is a real skill or job, or is it just a supplement to applied web design or other technical areas? I want to be a user experience designer, but I don't want to be a web developer. I understand the issues that come along with that statement, because since the web is a technology with the biggest audience and experience has to be designed for it, which is why you need web skills.

Also there doesn't seem to be true user experience jobs even with creating devices. This seems to be the discipline of industrial design which uses user experience. This leads me to believe that user experience is not a real field, but is used within disciplines.

What jobs can I do if I want to get into more of the psychology of user experience, instead of the technical, or artistic design?

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When we do app tests, we take always 50% user(=semi-technical) skilled poeple and 50% non-skilled people and take the average of both to refine our goals. Sounds silly but worked well for us. In both cases however, they deserve to be honored for their time. –  mc007 Nov 8 '11 at 18:58
    
If you want to focus more on psychology than application you probably want research, and you're looking more for Human Computer Interaction, much like if you're researching databases you're really looking at being a Computer Scientist, not a DBA –  Ben Brocka Nov 8 '11 at 20:37
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I'd say HCI is now an outdated term. Although it possibly lives on in the world of academic (not commercial) research. –  PhillipW Nov 8 '11 at 21:39
    
All the answers I received are fantastic and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to help me out with this. I am starting to wonder now what is the entry level jobs needed to do UX tasks? –  Ecurbed Nov 9 '11 at 14:42

5 Answers 5

User Experience is a cross over field in that to do it well you can't be purely technical nor purely focused on artistic and human factors. You have to have skills from all sides and understand the interplay between them.

When talking about websites and applications, to be good at UX you need to understand development and its related technologies. But you also have to understand the psychological and human factors; as well as artistic elements that go with it.

Whether it is a job depends on the company. I know many people who work full time as UX consultants or specialists, so UX is definitely a job. More often than not, UX is part of a skill set that many people should have to perform their job better.

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I don't think UX is a job. Different kinds of jobs are advertised using the phrase "UX specialist", but web or graphic design or even frontend development positions with a little UX on top are much more common than actual UX research-oriented position. I mean, even if a person is expected to do user research, the hard requirements in terms of skills or experience are often more on the design side. A common mindset seems to be that anybody can quickly produce good research without any formal training in methods and without a lot of time or money for research activities. –  Gala Nov 8 '11 at 16:50
    
"hard requirements in terms of skills or experience are often more on the design side" while I agree, I think that's an all-too-common mistake. –  DA01 Nov 8 '11 at 17:12
    
@GaëlLaurans, I agree with that to a certain degree. But just because some people have UX more as supplemental skillset doesn't mean we should try and distinguish UX when it really is UX - purely. At my current work we call us "UX Architects", I like that since it doesn't have "design" in it and comes closer to the crafting/architecting of experiences. –  JeroenEijkhof Nov 8 '11 at 17:52
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UX is definitely a job, and here is an advert for one. coroflot.com/public/job_details.asp?job_id=35162 and another rim-userinterface.jobs/virtual-swe/… –  DJClayworth Nov 8 '11 at 20:46
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@DJClayworth This is completely beside the point. You can find the word "UX" all over the place, but the jobs that mention it are very different from each other. The examples you mentioned in fact look like regular creative director/interaction designer type of positions. Now, designer is certainly a profession and not a new one at that. Jobs like this existed long before "UX" was even a topic of discussion. How does that make UX a distinct and well-identified job? It's simply design by another name. –  Gala Nov 9 '11 at 10:04

Most jobs with the words 'User' & 'Experience' in the job title seem to be a mix of some user research and some website design.

To answer the question; to concentrate on the psychology of user experience you need to look for look for job titles with 'Research' in them. Like this one:

http://www.microsoft-careers.com/job/Mountain-View-UX-Researcher-Windows-User-Experience-Research-Job-CA-94035/1431576/

Jobs like these are a lot less commmon.

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It sounds to me that you might be happiest in a UX position that involves business analysis and requirements gathering rather than technical implementation. Business analysis requires lots of skills, but the ability to grasp the client's workflows, mental models and existing approaches to problems is one that will transfer well from your UX toolbox. In gathering requirements, you'll get a lot of opportunities to practice user interviews and get hold of data - like artefacts from a paper-based system to replace - that will help in the UX side of your role.

That's not to say that pure UX positions don't exist. But they'll only appear at larger companies, and these tend to be very competitive.

Another combination I've sometimes seen is User Experience Designer + Technical Author. Technical writing is the art of effective help strategy - creating manuals, training programmes, instructional videos - that sort of thing. If you've an interest in the psychology of learning and perception, and a sensitivity to user needs, then technical writing could work well for you. Many assume that technical authors have to be gold-plated copy-writers, but actually, so long as you can write concise prose, it's your ability to recognize use cases and user priorities that'll really make the difference.

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UX is a discipline which has lot of roles within it for each industry and each domain. Atleast for Web/Desktop/Handheld platforms UX designer is who can work as usability analyst involving in business analysis, data gathering, surveys, heuristic evaluations, and as a Interaction designer involving in Information Architecture, Expert Review, interactive wireframing and as a visual designer working on detailed design of the wireframe/icons..etc and finally as UI developer converting those detailed screens into equivalent html/css code.

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It is most definitely can be a standalone job. A lot of companies have very different idea of what these jobs actually entails. As commented above: in larger organisations and design agencies you may find purely UX jobs. Where as in general a lot of jobs advertised as UX actually involve large elements of Visual/web design or development.

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