UX Research & Design MicroMasters: Developing Great User Experiences from Concept to Prototype

This article was originally posted on 9/29/2016 on edX Blog

Mark Newman, Associate Professor, School of Information, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation

Successful products deliver great experiences for their users. Increasingly, businesses across all industries are recognizing that User Experience Research and Design are critical to success, and as a result User Experience is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing fields in the world. There are as many as 150,000 open UX jobs in the US alone, offering a median salary in the range of $90,000. Moreover, demand is projected to continue to grow in the coming years.

UX Researchers and Designers work with product teams to apply proven techniques, knowledge of design principles, and creative insights to ensure that the end-product of the development process addresses critical user needs, meets business goals, and delivers a great experience. UX professionals can help businesses stay on track by avoiding “feature creep,” eliminating usability problems that will require costly fixes later, and keeping project timelines focused.

To steer the product development process in the right direction, UX professionals balance research and design methods to ensure that they “get the design right, and get the right design.” As the UX field grows, some practitioners are specializing in either UX Design or UX Research, while many work to develop their skill in both arenas, switching hats as needed to move projects forward. UX Research focuses on understanding users—who they are, what they do, and what they need—through various techniques including interviews, surveys, and direct observation. UX Research is also concerned with testing and evaluating potential designs to figure out what will actually work for users, and what needs to go back to the drawing board. UX Design is about generating design solutions to address user needs found through Research, and developing them through multiple rounds of increasingly detailed sketching, prototyping, and specification, producing potential solutions that can be evaluated and improved.

Woman presenting user design to co-workersIn the UX Research and Design MicroMasters, learners will dive into the exciting field of UX, learning the principles, process, and techniques to create great user experiences, while also gaining hands-on experience with the techniques UX professionals use every day. The MicroMasters is a great starting point for anyone, from any background, who wants to get started in the field, improve their ability to create great products, enhance a skill set with expertise in UX Design and Research, or learn more about how the products they love or hate came to be the way they are.

We’re excited about the potential of this portable, modular, and scalable model designed to meet the changing needs of learners around the world. With this new program we see an opportunity to broaden participation and accelerate learning through flexible pathways. With the UX MicroMasters we combine our values around inclusive access to high quality higher education, our strengths in UX and human computer interaction, and an undeniable opportunity to address the shifting demand for expertise in this growing field.

U-M continues to play a leadership role in shaping higher education in an information age and to reimagining the role of a great public research university for the 21st century. The UX MicroMasters represents a clear opportunity to extend our reach to provide access and unlock opportunities for personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning for the U-M community and learners around the world.

We look forward to engaging a diverse community of global learners in the UX MicroMasters and to helping learners to accelerate their careers in a rapidly evolving field.

As a leading institution in UX education, the University of Michigan School of Information is very excited to partner with edX to offer our world-class curriculum to a wider audience. We hope that learners from around the globe will choose to be a part of this exciting endeavor.

The first course in the UX Research and Design MicroMasters starts October 4th, enroll today!

In addition to the UX Research and Design MicroMasters, U-M announced new MicroMasters programs in social work and educational leadership that each unlock new personalized pathways to lifelong learning.

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