Home > User Experience > What is missing in UX Design as compared with another Design practice, e.g. Architecture? | by Sushumna | Jul, 2021

What is missing in UX Design as compared with another Design practice, e.g. Architecture? | by Sushumna | Jul, 2021

What is missing in UX Design as compared with another Design practice, e.g. Architecture? | by Sushumna | Jul, 2021

Unsplash.com, Quino Al

UX Design is still an emerging field 20years old to be precise (minus the time when Don Norman coined the term User Experience) as compared to Architecture which is many centuries old. Some of the principles of UX Design are derived from Architecture. There are many overlapping subjects like visual design, ergonomics, human factors, research-based approach, interaction design, design thinking, etc.

I cannot practice Law without a graduation degree
I cannot practice Architecture without having a degree
I cannot become a Doctor without a formal education
Even a Chef cannot be hired without a formal education
A Pilot needs dedicated training and a license to fly a plane

To become a Dancer in various dance forms, you need years of dedicated training

Then why we are stopping UX Design from becoming professional, considering all the complex it is becoming now?

This story is inspired by Amy Rogers
https://uxdesign.cc/the-fetishisation-of-ux-design-1ce2de0644b5 so I suggest this as a good read in combination.

A bit about me: I have a full-fledged 5year graduate degree in Architecture with 5+ years of working in Landscape Architecture, India. I changed my career and worked in Visual and UX design for 8years and now doing Masters of Design Strategy, Australia.

Today, people have more flexibility to change their career, make career choices, transition, try different pathways and do what they love, unlike it was not the case 30years back. Today, people change companies easily. UX Design is one of those careers which is much influenced by this trend, the reason to mention this.

You will find developers, information designers, content creators, animators, industrial designers, fashion, textile, and many others jumping into the bandwagon of UX Design, including me from Architecture. So this article will argue all of that.

Unsplash.com, MD Duran

Architecture is a full-fledged degree bachelor course in many countries from 3–5 years and then a specialization of 2years. Apart from design-related subjects, we have carpentry, civil and structural design, humanities, history and there are full-fledged semesters, thesis, 6month long projects in these subjects. That goes into making a graduate. Architects do choose to move on to different specializations such as landscape, interior, urban design (city or neighborhood planning), building materials, surveyor and estimating, etc. Some parallel fields they choose/change is the production and set design in films, photography, animators or 3D walk-through specialists, visiting professors, etc. Some have ventured into industrial and products with additional courses. UX Design is one of them.

In UX Design many courses have recently been added like Experience Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design. Some are less than a decade old or some just provide master’s courses such as Masters of Design. Many design professionals found it synonymous with UX Design due to overlapping subjects and manage to create their niche from workshops, boot camps, online certification, or just dedicated practice. The profession of Graphic Design/Web Developer has much influenced UX Design.

The emerging generation has a clear idea and wants to go for a professional course of a Bachelors’s or a Master’s course. Many still jumping the bandwagon from boot camps, 6month design schools, and courses, online certifications.

But when do we start recognizing this design field as unique and have some professional guidelines? People, who have some overlapping skills or who have a full-time course in Design? When do we recognize to have a full-fledged set of skills/mindset/graduate degree? For eg.
* Developers: who already did some UI development (I know a project turning disaster when backend developers were hired to do UI development)
* Visual/Graphic Design who already did some work in web/application design phase or aspiring
* Developer or Engineers who have done some prototyping, drawing with research-based approach
* Architects, Industrial Designers, Fashion Designers, etc

To practice Architecture, you need to be registered to professional bodies of their respective countries. In India, it is COA-Council of Architecture and in Australia, it is the AIA-Australian Institute of Architects. Without this, you cannot take projects, sign for any nor practice. Architects can only set up a private practice when they are registered and paid their professional practice fees to the governing body. They can also hire people.

They need to follow bye-laws, guidelines of that region, state, country, for any kind of project of that place. Every plan that goes out needs to be scanned through the eyes of an Architect, approved, stamped, and submitted.

For specialized projects like schools, hospitals, sky-scapers, parks, city planners, Architect need to work with specialized professionals like structural designers, civil engineers, interior and landscape consultants, lighting consultants, building surveyors, and estimators. All these special skills come from training professional courses with years of experience.

In UX Design, the design systems of multinationals like Google, IBM, designsystem.gov.au (Australia) have helped achieve certain standardization, guidelines, and authenticity of the practice. Now governments of different countries are seeking designs to go Digital for their platforms.

UX Doctor/Clinics, UX Inspector introspect design from another perspective or help to determine the health of the design of a product/service/ application, which is good. This skill comes with a certain experience. There are roles such as Chief Design Officer which offers an authentic position with business leaders. Many startups boast of designing.

Unsplash.com, Alfred Shrock

Do we ask an Architect to practice structural design, civil, contractor, plumbing, carpentry, landscaping? No. In small projects, an Architect does manage to become a structural designer or a civil engineer but big projects need special talent. They all get paid as per their consultancy. They have also had a niche education into that.

Over a period of time Architect with their special interest or inclination to take projects often in the same zone like Landscape, Urban layouts, Hospitals, Schools, Residential, become experts. UX has beginning to ask for SaaS-based, conversational design, AR/VR, gamification as niche skills. Industry UX specialists like commercial, mobile designers, service designers, are also equally becoming important as experience and demand grow.

Why UX Designer is expected to be a Unicorn? UX Designer is already doing research, visualizer, interaction, usability, and then to top it they demand development, content management, marketer, social media, animation, video editing. If any UX Designer happens to have a hobby it’s a bonanza but never should be asked even as a desirable skill.

While the software skills in Architecture AutoCad skill and Revitt are determining factors as well and so in UX Design as Figma or Sketch or Miro.

To immigrate to Canada or Australia (currently I know these are immigration-friendly countries, need especially skilled people, and have point-based visa systems). I did try studying Canada but Australia happened for various reasons so I shall elaborate on Australia.

Architecture is treated as 1. Architect 2. Draftsmen 3. Landscape 4. Building survey and technicians, in the ‘job code’ list of Australia. You need to have accompanied certification with it like 3–5 year Bachelors or a specialized Masters. These skills and experience need to be assessed even before you apply for skilled immigration.

How is UX Design treated? It is funny to know Canada and Australia do not have a ‘job code’ and UX Design is 1. Graphic Design 2. Web Design. The acceptable degree is Bachelors of Graphic Design/Design or Masters or now they might accept Interaction or Experience Design as a matching degree. The rest of the degree in some other field directly deducts your visa points if it does not match the relevant work experience. They deducted my 3years as I did not have Fine Art/Commercial Art/Graphic Design, I have Architecture. I did have Graphic Design as a major subject and I have done sheets of color theory, typography, 3D modeling, etc. My point score came down. The assessing body is VETASSES.

Hence, corporates, professional design bodies, universities, design schools, private design certifiers need to start a trend:

1. the expectation of skills of a UX Designer so small players learn, observe

2. aptitude/entrance tests to enter UX Design field

3. assess overlap of skills required and determine them

Your feedback, comments, most welcome. Thank you for reading this far :).

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