So you wanna be a user experience designer – by Whitney Hess

By ianjo / On / In design, inscriptions

Stolen from, only because I didn’t want to lose it, if she killed her blog, or have to find it again. Go read her blog.

So you wanna be a user experience designer — Step 1: Resources

June 30th, 2009 ·

Pretty much every single day I get a tweet, email, or in person request for information on how to get started in the field of user experience. I’ve recently had a few people reach out to me even asking me to mentor them throughout the process. Given that I often find myself repeating the same answers over and over again, I decided to put all of my resources in a single blog post so that folks could easily access a consolidated version of my advice.

So you wanna be a user experience designer?

The best way to learn a new language is to go to a country where it’s spoken and immerse yourself in the confusion. Soon the unfamiliar will become familiar, and before you know it you’ll be fluent.

If you’re interested in getting to know more about user experience, I recommend doing the same. You may choose to simply understand the terminology, or become conversant. You might later decide to tackle some of the more complex concepts.

There are many steps to the process, but I am starting with Resources because I believe you need a great arsenal before kicking off any journey. In future posts I’ll discuss:

  • Guiding Principles
  • Process
  • Tools
  • Transitioning from other careers
  • Practice Landscape

…as well as any other topics that come up along the way.

I have organized the resources below in what I perceive to be lightest to deepest engagement — publications and blogs, books, local events, organizations, mailing lists, webinars, workshops, conferences, and schooling.

DISCLAIMER: These are my personal recommendations, and plenty of people will disagree with me on many points, I’m sure. But this is what has worked for me — the people/places/events/organizations that have kept my interest throughout my schooling and career — and where I believe anyone who wants to immerse themselves in user experience should start their journey. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

UX Books

UX Primer

Design Thinking






Extra Credit

UX Blogs

  • Konigiby Michael AngelesTips, tools and techniques for being a better user experience designer
  • Disambiguityby Leisa ReicheltThe ins and outs of designing a product with an existing, and passionate, community
  • EverydayUXby Alex RainertA fresh look at the world around us through UX-tinted glasses
  • Graphpaperby Christopher FaheyCritical analysis of some of the toughest issues facing UX designers today
  • inspireUXby Catriona CornettCubical-wall worthy quotations from a variety of practitioners on how and why to create positive user experiences
  • Bokardo – Social Designby Joshua PorterFor everything you need to consider when designing socially-focused stuff
  • Logic + Emotionby David ArmanoReusable visualizations and valuable synthesis at the intersection of user experience design, marketing and business
  • Putting People Firstby ExperientiaA great resource for all things UX from around the globe
  • Brain Sparksby User Interface Engineering (UIE)Inside the brilliant minds of user research pioneer Jared Spool and his team
  • Design for Serviceby Jeff HowardInsights into all the ways companies need to be communicating with their customers, outside of their websites
  • UX Boothby Redd Horrocks, Matthew Kammerer, David Leggett, and Andrew MaierA group blog written by up-and-coming designers and developers with fresh perspectives on user experience design. They represent the next generation of our community

UX Publications

  • Boxes and ArrowsJournal dedicated to discussing, improving and promoting the work of the information architecture community
  • interactionsMagazine including timely articles, stories, and content related to the interactions between experiences, people, and technology, published by the Association for Computing Machinery
  • UXmattersInsights and inspiration for the user experience community written by many distinguished practitioners
  • Core77Industrial Design content and community site – articles, discussions, interviews and resources

Local Events


Mailing lists


  • UIE’s Virtual SeminarsA monthly series of online seminars giving you the chance to hear the latest perspectives in the world of design from the field’s premier experts.
    $129 each. 90 minutes.
  • Rosenfeld Media’s Future Practice WebinarsThe cutting edge of contemporary user experience research and design methods and practices.
    $99 each. 60 minutes.
  • Adaptive Path’s Virtual Seminars$129 each. 75 minutes.
  • Smart Experience online material


  • UIE RoadshowIn this full-day, in-depth seminar you’ll discover the key experience-design factors, analyze your team’s strengths and weaknesses, create an experience vision, and learn the role of delight.
  • AdaptivePath’s UX IntensiveThis four-day workshop series is for experienced professionals wanting to take their practice to the next level.
  • Cooper UA practical collection of courses that help product team members improve their effectiveness from early planning all the way through implementation.



  • Good Experience Live (GEL)A conference and community exploring good experience in all its forms — in business, art, society, technology, and life.
  • IDEA ConferenceThe world’s foremost thinkers and practitioners sharing the big ideas that inspire, along with practical solutions for the ways people’s lives and systems are converging to affect society.
  • Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience (Mx)Thought leaders from major corporations show you how smart and visionary management will help you successfully compete in a difficult economy.


  • UIE’s User Interface ConferenceExamining the biggest issues in the world of web design, information architecture, and usability.
  • NN/g’s Usability WeekA three-day usability camp, a three-day intensive session on interaction design, and several specialized, day-long tutorials on core usability topics. Come for as few or as many days as you want.
  • UPATutorials, workshops, Experienced Practitioners program, then two and a half days packed with presentations, Idea Markets, and opportunities to network with other user experience professionals.


  • IxDA Interaction ConferenceThree days of inspirational and tactical sessions geared at anyone who practices Interaction Design, as well as a day of pre-conference workshops.
  • IA SummitThe premier gathering place for information architects and other user experience professionals. Two days of pre-conference sessions, two keynotes and over 50 presentations.
  • Adaptive Path’s UX WeekA mix of inspiring talks from recognized thought leaders and hands-on workshops delivering takeaway skills, this event delivers for user experience professionals at all levels — directors, managers, and practitioners.
  • UIE’s Web App SummitThe four-day Summit includes two days of intensive full-day workshops and two more days of featured presentations from world-renown experts, to give you fresh perspectives and new insights on today’s web app design challenges.
  • UX Australia3-day user experience design conference, with inspiring and practical presentations, covering a range of topics about how to design great experiences for people.
  • UX LondonA unique three-day event combining inspirational talks with in-depth workshops presented by some of the industry’s biggest names.


  • ACM’s CHIThe premier international conference for the field of human-computer interaction.


Human Computer Interaction

Interaction Design


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