Are you an undergraduate student wondering how you can leverage your strengths, passions, and skills for a rewarding career? Do you have a strong aptitude for design, strategy, or research?
If so, a career in user experience might be for you. User experience is one of the best careers for aspiring professionals who want the freedom to work wherever and whenever the mood strikes – as well as those who would rather work in a more formal, cultivated office setting.
Figuring out the path you should take as you navigate the first baby steps of your career can be challenging. Luckily, there’s a class on LinkedIn that can help you as you are just getting started. It’s called Planning a Career in User Experience and it’s taught by Cory Lebson, a leading author and educator in this discipline.
It’s also one of the top-ranked classes of its kind on LinkedIn – but is it right for you?
Here’s what you need to know about this interactive and engaging online class.
What is User Experience – and What Kind of Career Could You Have in User Experience?
Curious about what exactly user experience is – and whether it’s a career that could be right for you?
User experience, often abbreviated to UX, is how a person feels as he or she interacts and interfaces with a system. It’s a relatively new discipline that becomes increasingly complex as technologies and methodologies adapt and change.
Ultimately, the success of a website is dependent on how users perceive it – do they get some sort of value? Is the website easy to use? Is it enjoyable to use?
As a user experience professional, your job will be to consider all the human factors involved in web and technology design. You’ll examine things like value perception, ease of use, efficiency, utility, and more.
All kinds of projects, industries, and situations benefit from user experience design, including complex systems (like e-commerce websites), start-ups, long term projects, and more. However, it’s far from a one-size-fits-all discipline, as it’s rapidly changing and evolving to meet the demands of the industry.
There is an ocean of job titles available to you as a user experience professional – the most common title you might encounter is that of a UX designer, but there are others, too, including those as a user experience researcher, a user experience architect, or information architect, a user experience copywriter, a user experience analyst, and much, much more.
In this class, you’ll not only learn about the major sub-disciplines of user experience (because believe me, there are plenty!) but you’ll also uncover the various jobs that align with those subdisciplines, your passions, and your strengths. You’ll learn some of the major job benefits of working full-time for a company as well as those that you would enjoy if you are working on a consultant or freelance basis.
The course willl also teach you how to create a salesworthy resume and portfolio so that you can properly brand and “sell” yourself as a user experience professional.
What Kinds of Content Does the Course Cover?
The course begins with a quick but helpful introduction from Cory Lebson. Personally, I appreciated the fact that the course included this introduction because it gave me a great starting place while beginning the class – I didn’t feel like I was jumping into anything too suddenly.
User Experience Careers
The first section of the course deals with a general introduction to the field of user experience – and where you should start if you are entering into a career in this field.
Lebson makes it clear that user experience doesn’t just have to do with computers but also has to do with other kinds of technology, like smartphones, wearables, and more.
Regardless of the technology you work with, however, your role will be the same – you will be working to find ways to improve the ways in which people interact with technology.
Your first step in user experience, of course, is to build your experience. You need an undergraduate degree but you don’t necessarily need one in user experience.
Lebson walks students through the kinds of education that can be beneficial as you are getting started in this field – even something as simple as educating yourself by reading books and blogs can be helpful.
Interestingly, in this section, Lebson doesn’t push students toward a particular program of study or toward earning a master’s degree.
Although advanced training can be helpful, that doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of graduate education and can instead be through networking and talking regularly with others in this field.
Next, Lebson gives a detailed overview of the major user experience fields – research, design, and strategy. All three are essential but depending on your skills, you may choose to pursue one over another of these individual career tracks.
Most people think of design when they consider user experience, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. Design focuses on both the visual and functional factors of a website along with its organization, information, and accessibility.
He also discusses the essential functions of strategy and research. The career path of user experience as it relates to research usually works to uncover the relationships between products, people, and the environment.
Strategy, on the other hand, connects business goals to the use of products by the exact people for whom the products are intended.
Lebson emphasizes that although all user experience pathways largely fall into one of three tracks – research, design, or strategy – no user experience career can be purely categorized into one box. There is always a ton of overlap between the three.
In fact, he goes on, as you search for jobs, you might find that you can be either a generalist or a specialist.
There are benefits to both. For example, if you want to be a senior level practitioner, you’re probably going to need to be able to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, at least at first – but you’ll need to build your skills and find areas in which you can specialize. This will help make you more marketable over time.
The next section of the course goes into the main design careers that you can pursue if you’re interested in a career in user experience – interaction design, visual design, and service design.
Interaction design is often referred to as user experience or UX design, but in general, focuses on how to create effective and efficient interactions between an interface and its users. You might sketch out your interactions on a whiteboard or with a pencil – you could even create static mock-ups with software like Visio. Ultimately, in a career in interaction design, you’ll help a team see beyond their major business goals toward understanding how the product will impact the product users.
Visual designers often use the input from interaction designers to create artistic elements, meaning, and understandings of interactivity on the screen, all of which is done with images, space, and colors. You’ll need to be able to design those interfaces based on user understanding and knowledge.
Service design is a bit different from the previous two categories in that while the other categories deal mostly with screen-based designs, as a service designer, you’ll look to design the entirety of an interaction. These interactions can be electronic or in-person. Lebson notes that service design careers are far more popular in the United Kingdom and overseas as compared to in the United States.
Lebson also breaks down a few more potential career paths in user experience that you might want to consider – one is in information architecture. An information architect is generally most concerned with the best ways to organize information on the screen and behind these ones so that it can easily be found and used when it is needed.
It is again based solidly in the understanding of users, from their vocabulary to their knowledge and their approach to the system’s organization.
Lebson also goes over careers in content writing, information design, and technical communication. These careers are often viewed as ancillary to user experience but are actually quite integral and are essential when it comes to meeting the needs of all stakeholders involved in the process.
Next, Lebson goes over some of the major careers in research that you might pursue as a user experience professional. After all, all careers in user experience require a solid understanding of the intended audience group, so being able to gather data to furnish that understanding is essential.
Research in user experience isn’t solely academic but it can be quite challenging – Lesson will tell you why. He only discusses these sorts of careers for a few minutes, but does give learners an additional resource to check out – the User Experience Careers Handbook.
Lebson also discusses careers in accessibility and human factors. For example, accessibility specialists ensure that anyone can use products even if they have physical limitations (such as motor impairments). Professionals who work in human factors are those who conduct research to make sure that products are aligned with usability factors behind the scenes.
The next section of the course deals with careers in user experience strategy. This highly strategic field contains three subcategories – UX strategy, customer experience, and content strategy. All three focus on the alignment of business strategy with the product user experience.
In one of these careers, you will need to understand the goals and language of businesses.
Content strategy is another subdiscipline of user experiences strategy careers. You’ll focus on a business’ needs and goals but also work to align those goals and the content found on a website or an app. You will need to maintain consistency in terms of your voice, brand, and tone.
A similar “subdiscipline” that Lebson describes and explains is customer experience. This discipline also falls into the UX strategy bucket but focuses on how the business goals align with the experience of customers at all of the touch points where customers can connect.
Your UX Career
This final main section of the course was the one I found the most helpful. Lebson walks students through all of the major steps involved in acquiring a rewarding career in user experience, regardless of whether you want to work in-house or in a consulting or freelancing career. You’ll learn about the major benefits and disadvantages of doing both.
Not only that, but Lebson will teach you how you can use portfolios and resumes to help tell your story, as well as how you can use user experience branding to aid you in your job search.
You’ll also learn how to work with recruiters. This might not be something that all user experience professionals end up doing, but if you end up needing to work with a recruiter, you’ll find this section of the course to be immensely valuable.
The final section of the class serves as a nice wrap-up to everything learned in the course. Lebson gives students some next steps that they can take as they pursue their careers in user experience, including checking out the User Experience Carers Handbook.
He will provide you with a link where you can learn more but also recommends searching for user experience-related courses on LinkedIn Learning so that you can learn more about the discipline and about specific careers that might be available to you.
The Course & The Instructor
This course is one of many on LinkedIn Learning. It’s taught by Cory Lebson, a top author and educator in the field of user experience. To date, more than 68,873 students have taken the course and more than 3,010 members on LinkedIn Learning have liked it. That’s quite the audience, especially when you consider that the course was only launched four years ago.
Designed for beginners, the class is just 52 minutes long. It offers content that is easy to understand and delivered by an approachable, astute instructor.
Cory Lebson is a user experience research and strategy consultant and freelancer. He is also viewed as a leader, top speaker, author, and instructor, based out of Silver Spring, Maryland. Prior to teaching courses on LinkedIn Learning, he taught on the Lynda platform and served in roles at companies such as K12, Inc. and UXPA International.
He is highly recommended by his constituents with 28 separate publications to back up his credibility. His recommendations include praise such as, “Cory is highly knowledgeable about user research techniques and best practices.
He is capable in conducting both generative and evaluative research and creating custom training courses on usability testing techniques and best practices. Cory is a seasoned UX practitioner and a consummate professional.”
Major Benefits of Taking This Course
Clear Learning Objectives
I’ve mentioned this before, but whenever I take an online class, I find it incredibly beneficial to see course objectives laid out before me. Seeing course objectives often helps me to decide whether a class is right for me – and it also lets me know how I can expect the class to be broken down.
The Planning a Career in User Experience course is no different. The learning objectives are clearly detailed and are as follows:
- What is UX?
- Should you be a UX generalist or a specialist?
- Available UX career types: design, research, and strategy
- Working in-house, consulting, or freelancing
- Telling a story with a portfolio and resume
- Working with recruiters
Although these are very general objectives, I found them to be a helpful guide as I navigated through the class – I knew what I still had left to learn as I moved from module to module.
LinkedIn also categorizes its courses based on the skills you are expected to acquire. In this class, you will cover skills such as career path planning, career management, and user experience design.
Certificate of Completion
For all of the courses I’ve taken on LinkedIn Learning to date, I’ve received a certificate of completion upon finishing the class. My understanding is that LinkedIn Learning provides these for all of the classes that it hosts.
I love this feature – it not only gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment that I completed the course but it also serves as a valuable addition to my resume and portfolio. You can also add these to your LinkedIn profile, making yourself more marketable as you interact with potential employers and coworkers.
Notebook and Transcript Assistance
All LinkedIn Learning classes come with helpful notebook and transcript features. These enable you to do two things: to take notes in a virtual notebook, and to read the transcribed content that’s pulled from the course.
I’ve taken online classes with a myriad of other platforms, and I haven’t found any that do quite as good of a job at transcribing the audio of the course clearly and accurately – most include mistakes here or there.
That might not sound like a big deal, but when you’re having trouble picking up the audio in an online course, it’s essential that the quality of the transcription be superior. That’s not always the case.
This class, as well as most others that I’ve taken on LinkedIn Learning, comes with a clear transcription so it’s easy to figure out what the instructor is trying to say.
As with all LinkedIn Learning courses, the Planning a Career in User Experience course comes with a helpful question and answer feature. The beauty of this feature is that it enables students, both potential, past, and current, to obtain technical assistance, read reviews from other students, and interact with other members who have taken the class.
Despite the fact that the class was launched four years ago, a quick skim of the questions and answers section on this class showed that Lebson is still active with the class – he responds to user questions in a timely question, making me feel confident that this class would enable me to interact directly with the instructor if I needed or wanted to. Not only that, but I could chat back and forth with other classmates, giving me a more real-life feel as it relates to my online class.
Access to Learning Groups
This course is one of many on LinkedIn Learning that provides students with access to inclusive learning groups when they enroll in the course. Sign up for this class, and you’ll be able to join the User Experience (UX) Learning Group on LinkedIn Learning. This group is perfect for anybody who is new to the fields of user research, user experience design, or user experience, and want to be able to connect, interact, collaborate, learn, and teach with other professionals.
Not sure that the Planning a Career in User Experience course by Cory Lebson is right for you? Not to fear. There are plenty of other options on LinkedIn if you’re new to User Experience, or UX. Most of these have to do more with working with the technology than they do with the career essentials, but some of the top-rated classes you’ll find include:
- UX Foundations: Information Architecture
- User Experience for Web Design
- UX Design 1: Overview
- UX Design 2: Analyzing User Data
- UX Design 3: Creating Personas
Who is the Planning a Career in User Experience Course on LinkedIn Learning Best For?
If you’re considering a career in user experience, you won’t find a better course than Planning a Career in User Experience on LinkedIn Learning to help acquaint you with the essentials of the career path. Not only is this an excellent course for job seekers hungry for advice, but it also offers valuable tips for employers and recruiters who want to understand user experience a little bit better.
If you’re a graduate or undergraduate student, you’ll find this purse invaluable as you begin to explore your career. You’ll also uncover more training opportunities so that you can become a more skilled and specified user experience practitioner.
In short, this course is a great fit for anybody who is looking to build a career in user experience or a related discipline. At less than an hour long, it is a sound way to invest your time to help you get a leg up as you begin your career.