an intro to ux

for engineers



this talk is not about php

what is ux?

is it ui? is it research? is it strategy? is it testing?

let's rewind

Ye Olde Webmaster Days

the webmaster was responsible for....

  • designing websites
  • building websites
  • putting websites on the internet
  • setting up the internet
  • setting up emails
  • setting up file servers
  • setting up VOIP phones
  • maybe also a DJ
  • maybe also a hacker

websites looked kinda like this

for a long time, web designer actually meant web developer

but it was becoming clear that this whole internet thing was not just for weirdos & kids

important people and organisations were not only getting websites...

but some of these companies were online only, and they were getting pretty popular

at this point getting online was not very fast or easy

hence why websites were not great

but now that websites were important for business, people started to investigate...

"how can we make more money from this website?"

good ux = it is easy possible for someone to give you money

in 1998 wifi happened

some guys at stanford started talking about "design thinking"

soon, the public sector would be getting online

good ux = make it easy possible for people to access information online

then someone put the internet on a phone


coincidentally, it was the same company that this guy worked at

Don Norman

Apple 1993-1998

wrote The Design Of Everyday Things

one half of Nielsen Norman

first person to change his title

to "User Experience Architect"

apple's approach to designing for the internet was revolutionary

strongly led by minimalism

and other design heuristics

the rise of the iphone required "web designers" to design "mobile sites"

soon we would be selling "responsive design"

let's fast forward

the digital landscape has evolved

the problems we are solving with software are more complicated

they need to do more things

and they need to work on more devices

the terminology has changed

searches for "responsive design" (google trends)

so the job of ux has evolved too

ux designers do many things and come in many flavours

but they all concern themselves with the same essential thing

on a more strategic level, it looks more like this:

so what do ux professionals actually do?

research interviews

build personas

user flow diagrams

affinity mapping

data analysis

workshop facilitation


focus groups



build personas

card sorting

eye tracking

ethnographic research



competitor research

content audit



design studios




prototyping in code


usability testing

a/b testing

metrics tracking

analysis of data

cross-funtional pairing

paired sketching

clickable wireframes/mockups

fundamentally, ux is about putting humans at the centre of design

we call this "human centred design"

this means that the design isn't successful unless it's verified to be successful with the humans who will use it

sometimes design is messy

ux expands and contracts

it takes time and it can be expensive

but we do it because our job, as makers of things, is about helping actual people

not just being fancy hipster designers who have shiny portfolios

ux is about approaching problems humbly

ux is about admitting that we do not already know the solution

ux is about going back to the users and understanding the problem

ux is about trying things and testing hypotheses

ux is about discovering and refining the solution together

one last thing!

ux is not just for people who have "ux" in their job title

getting closer to users and understanding their problems will help you build better solutions

human-centred design is a shared responsibility



An intro to UX for devs

By Amelia Schmidt

An intro to UX for devs

Presentation for the PHP Meetup in Melbourne.

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