The digital revolution has created tech-savvy consumers who demand more user-friendly interfaces, interactive design, and applications. In light of this demand, UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface) design and development has become a key asset in a number of industries including, technology, entertainment and business, emerging technology (AR/VR), media production, digital marketing, e-commerce, education, health care, the military, science, and medicine.
In 2019, New York Institute of Technology launched the UX/UI Design and Development, M.A., degree program to provide students with visual UX/UI design strategies, digital development skills, and a fundamental knowledge of industry standards, technologies, and terminologies. The Box sat down with Assistant Professor of Digital Art and Design Kevin Park, M.F.A., who was instrumental in launching the program.
Tell us about your background and your experience with UX/UI.
I worked as a senior UX design manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 17 years, where I worked on various areas of the digital experience, including the museum’s website, application development, in-gallery technology, and digital signage, among other projects. During this tenure I also worked as a consultant for other museums, like the Smithsonian, MoMA, Guggenheim, The Art Institute of Chicago, Harvard University, Pentagram, McDonald’s. These organizations all wanted to implement a new experiential design discipline that had not yet been defined but would later go on to become UX/UI. After helping to implement these disciplines across digital platforms, I went on to teach UX courses at Parsons School of Design and NYU, and while at NYU I co-developed the User Experience Design Professional diploma (2013) and UX/UI Design curriculum for NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS).
Now, New York Tech, with its strong digital art and design program, has an exciting opportunity to position itself at the crossroads of human interaction and UX design.
How is the UX/UI design and development program at New York Tech unique?
Unlike many other academic UX programs, which take a conventional UX approach, our program uses a digital art and design perspective to provide students with visual design strategies, digital development skills, and a fundamental knowledge of industry standards, technologies, and terminologies. We train graduate students to become digital design specialists who can fully engage the user and maximize his or her experience with emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), Voice (VUI) and other new areas.
In addition, many of our instructors come from well-known companies like Deloitte, Google, Viacom, NYU, and other businesses, and bring actual product concepts into our classes. This synergy with real-world businesses provides students with the opportunity to test the usability and effectiveness of these prototypes, which is very exciting.
Why is a design perspective critical to developing products?
If you’ve experienced frustration with the usability of a software program or the interface of a device, you can see why UX/UI design is essential to product development. When developers create a digital product without a human-centric, holistic focus, they’re really creating a tool without understanding its underlying issues and how well it meets the consumer’s needs. In UX/UI design and development, we strive to create a digital product that is user-friendly and effective, where the user interaction elements (the UI components) of every page or screen communicate efficiently and make sense with how a person uses the product (the UX components).
We’ve seen UX/UI students working in the HIVE (Home for Innovation, Visualization, and Exploration). What kind of experiences do they gain from this environment?
Emerging technology can be a foreign concept and one that is always evolving, but the HIVE is a one-stop-shop where users are exposed to a highly concentrated level of cutting-edge technology in one place. Students can immerse themselves in AR, VR, machine learning, 3-D printing, and other areas. All UX/UI students are recommended to work in the HIVE as graduate assistants, which allows them to become familiar with the equipment and educate others about its usage. We’re also developing a Usability and Heuristics testing lab at the HIVE, where the UX/UI students will leverage technology to assess the usability of outside products.