About Paul Mirocha
Once a graphic designer, now passionate about UX
I came to User Experience (UX) design from graphic/web design and illustration. For decades I worked in science communication, explaining complex subjects to kids and the non-technical public. UX is by nature eclectic–when needed, I can draw on the experience gained in these other areas, including owning a business, to solve a problem.
MS degree in UX Design
In 2017, I completed an MS degree in UX Design from Kent State University, School of Information. The program has a focus on user research, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving. I learned to think strategically about design and business.
Design is not a form of self-expression–it works toward a definable goal. I now believe UX, the user-centered design approach, is the most sophisticated way to approach any kind of visual or product design.
- As an illustrator, I learned to draw.
- As a graphic designer I learned how easy it is to make assumptions about your audience and design for yourself.
- From owning my own business, I learned about economic constraints.
Having experience in visual work of all kinds, I have an eye for taking a design apart and putting it back together. My mind sees like an artist and thinks like a scientist. I want to work on projects that are useful, engage and inform users, are fun to use, and provide a benefit to the world.
About User Experience (UX) Design
UX design is an attitude and a method. It encourages critical and creative thinking.
UX is about solving problems, the conundrums that keep a business owner up at night. Digital products are especially prone to such intangibles. The solution is usually simple, hiding firmly in the minds of the users, and hard to guess at. Even the best designers can’t find this out by sitting at their desk. UX designers talk about “getting out of the building” talk to your audience, and do it in a skillful way.
“Throughout history, the most effective designers have applied a human-centric creative process to build meaningful and effective solutions. This design approach proved to be a differentiator.”
UX is the thinking behind the visual design. It’s often invisible work, done “under the hood,” but the results are what makes the engine run smoothly. The key to success is gaining insights about the people who will be using your product. Hiring a user experience (UX) designer is like having a Sherlock Holmes on your team—except that fortunately Mr. Holmes has now developed empathy and emotional intelligence.
About the UX Process
The UX or human-centered design process is usually defined in phases over time.
UX usually includes a DISCOVER, DEFINE, and DEVELOP phases. The DELIVER phase is done by visual designers and developers using the materials created in the first three phases as a guide. Normally this is a team process, but I can do a lean version as a “UX team of one,” and contract with other designer/developers.
Here is a simplified chart of what I might do in each stage, depending on the project. In actuality, it’s not so linear. Each stage may loop back onto the previous one in an iterative process, as ideas are tried out, discarded, and replaced with better ones.