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Trying to avoid the "what is the best tool for 'X'" type question, but a friend asked and I wasn't quite sure how to answer.

The original question went something like this:

What's the best tool for a sales-type guy/girl to create interactive mobile mockups?

The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I'd be doing a disservice to simply respond with "Balsamiq" (or any other tool for that matter).

I feel like the question could go deeper with something like:

What's the best/most efficient way for someone in sales to get his/her feet wet with UX?

  • Read some books? Don't Make Me Think, The Design of Everyday Things, A Project Guide to UX Design?
  • Learn some of the tools? Photoshop, Sketch, UXPin, Flinto, etc.

Am I overthinking it? Could you combine pen/paper with a tool like Prott or POP and just dive in?

Edit: This isn't about making the switch into the field. It's about getting their feet wet just enough to join the conversation in a meaningful way. I'm thinking about it like this:

Pat works in sales, but has an idea for an app/site/whatever they want to play around with as a side project. (S)he has heard about user-centered design, but that's about it. Some developer friends might be interested in teaming up, but they don't have much experience with UX either. What do you tell Pat?

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The simple answer? Do some UX stuff. Your suggestions above will work: read some books, do your research. However, there is nothing I can recommend more than actually doing some practical experience. Perhaps get in touch with some UX designers or companies and ask them if they could give you some ideas.

That said, there's also a lot to be said for sites like this. The old method of teaching yourself by teaching others is one of the best: perhaps recommend that your friend creates an account here and tries answering some basic questions. I always find it surprising how much of UX design is common sense - perhaps some simple questions would be enough common sense to be easy to answer. And of course, over time your experience builds and you can answer more complex questions.

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To me the best way for non-UX professionals to get started is to think about UX issues in their own field/area of expertise. It is the reciprocal situation when a UX professional works on a problem outside their knowledge domain, and need to acquire knowledge on top of their existing skills to solve the problem. The advantage you have is the domain knowledge in your field, and the easiest way is to work with UX professionals to learn about the skills as they work with you to acquire the knowledge.

As you probably realize, there are any number of tools you can use to get the work done, so the skills you need to learn are not so much technical in nature but more research and design process related.

If you are starting from scratch then sometimes it is good to dive in and figure out what you don't know (then you can ask some questions on UXSE), and if you find that you are going around in circles or having trouble then you could go back and read up on more information too.

Either way, it is important to have a good motivation for wanting to work in this field. The problems and challenges can be as tricky or rewarding as many other professions. And since many of us come from various background as well, we are always more than happy to lend a hand to those making the transition :)

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