The UX Umbrella: How to Approach Studying UX Design

When I think about User Experience, there are so many different facets that fall underneath. If there were a thorough sitemap of UX concepts, that would be ironically useful. So how much exactly can one person handle? Is a one-woman UX department even possible? Probably not. Not a good one, anyway.


I recently saw a diagram of a UX Umbrella that illustrated parts to whole. Without choosing to specialize in one area, how does one grasp the whole umbrella? How exactly do I approach these five areas? All at once? Should I just dive in and take what comes at me? Or should I strategically study one discipline at a time in a specific order? The five competencies I’m referencing are the following: Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Usability Engineering, Visual Design, and Prototype Engineering. Currently, I’m most interested in Interaction Design, Visual Design, and Usability Engineering. But, how can one approach UX without understanding and practicing all? Is it practical for one person to try and fully comprehend each discipline?


I completely believe in the ability to adapt and learn as you are doing something, as I’m the type of person who learns more from doing rather than reading about doing. But, I believe there is depth to User Experience that can only be reached by intensive research and reading. This presents a dilemma, since research is generally done alone, which is quite contradictory to UX’s nature. I think that User Experience should only exist in collaborative environments and is a waste of effort if practiced alone. One person’s thoughts and ideas about an experience are practically worthless when representing a mass audience of users.


This is probably one reason I joined and became responsible for the UX Club at UT Dallas – a new club I’ve helped co-found here at UTD. I wanted to discuss, collaborate, and practice together in a focused group. Isn’t that the core of User Experience? What better environment can you problem solve than in a team?