Interview with Noel Saw of LA UX Meetup

AIGA Orange County is partnering up Noel Saw of Los Angeles’s User Experience Meetup (LA UX) among other accolades, and Shri Jambhekar, Director, User Experience Design & Research at YP to bring the community UX Beginner Bootcamp on Saturday, May 12. We interviewed Noel to get some perspective on what UX design is, why it’s important, and what to expect from the bootcamp.

Can you tell us a little more about the LAUX Meetup group and how it got started?

The LAUX Meetup group was original founded in 2007 by a group of introspective UX designers based in West LA/Santa Monica. The “new” current leadership team (which I am a part of)  took over in 2010. We’re now up to 4,000 members as of today and have at least one event per month. Our largest events have had around 250–300 people attend.

What is the difference between user experience design and user interface design? And how are they related?

Great question! UX is the overall design process of building and “making” websites or software products in general.

Conventionally, the term “UX design” covers a wide range of disciplines and skillsets such as user/market research, information architecture (an aspect of that can include “wireframe design”), usability testing, and of course UI design.

User Interface (UI) design itself focuses on the aesthetics. UI is focused on fonts/typography, button styling, color palette and placement of stock photography. UI design is sometimes described as Visual Design by some designers.

One analogy that I’ve read elsewhere is to think of the human body where the bones represent the Code. The organs represent UX design that measures and adapts (hear rate, etc.) to support life functions. And UI design represents the cosmetics of the body, the shape and colors.

Who is typically involved in UX Design?

UX designers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many UX designers come from web or graphics design professions but surprisingly other UX designers didn’t start within those fields.

Some UX designers had their start in “library sciences” where they study taxonomy (also known as the science of how to best catalog of information).

I’ve also seen instances of “front end developers” (HTML/CSS coders) who want to learn and practice UX to make better web sites and apps.

My belief is that UX designers at some time in the careers should learn a little bit of coding to better understand the efforts required to make the designs into “reality.”

I don’t think you need to become an expert coder but a little bit of learning can help with having empathy for developers and understand that sometimes a seemingly simple visual change to a web page can take hours or days or weeks.

I also think UX designers more importantly should learn a lot more about business processes such as accounting, client management, and of course, sales & marketing.

What are some of the trends in UX right now?

Some recent trends are “rapid prototyping” tools (such as Axure or Adobe XD) to build clickable mockups where the designer links everything up to prove the “user flow”. This is done before developers even start on coding the project – in order to validate them before you burn a lot of hours realizing something doesn’t work.

Other trends are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices like Oculus (that Facebook acquired). And of course we’re starting to see “Wearables” taking off. A lot of people have complained about the Apple Watch being a “flop” but Apple just announced they’ve sold $1 billion dollars worth of Apple watches which is nothing to laugh at.

What are some of your favorite tools to guide you through the UX process? Are there any new tools you are excited about?

I am really excited about Adobe XD which came out 1–2 months ago. It’s Adobe’s UX design tool with built-in prototyping toolset. If you’re accustomed to Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, then you should feel at home with it.

I also like Optimal Workshop which helps with collecting information and feedback from customers and even your own team.

I also couldn’t live without Basecamp and Trello to help manage projects overall

What can participants expect from the UX bootcamp?

The bootcamp will be an easy to follow and informative workshop where we’ll share ideas and guide new UX designers to start learning and practicing industry “best practices.” We’re striving to also make it fun and enjoyable so you won’t be bored!

I think participants will walk away at the end of the day with a strong starting point with an actual UX workbook which you can immediately start using in your current projects. And we’ll have some follow up homework included in our workbook so everyone can keep learning and discovering new ideas.

Learn more about the bootcamp and reserve your spot, there are only 15!

By Archie Bagnall
Published May 1, 2016