The Design With a Big ‘D’ series digs into the scope and depth of the Dallas-Fort Worth UX/UI industry as the region becomes a hot spot for design talent and companies. To follow the series and get the news on what’s now and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, sign up for Dallas Innovates Every Day.
Companies big and small sing high praises of graduates with design-related degrees from Dallas area universities. Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of North Texas, and other local schools work with leaders in the region’s user experience community, helping fill job openings and honing curricula to better match industry demands.
UTA THEORY TO REALITY
The University of Texas at Arlington focuses both on theoretical and practical work toward improving user experiences and bettering the ways in which people interact with computers.
UTA’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering students are learning to build the next generation of computer interfaces. Studying problems in human-computer interactions (HCI), they are developing autonomous trucks, using gamification to help workers work more effectively and safely with robots in manufacturing facilities.
At the Heracleia Human Centered Computing Lab and the Motion Capture Lab, students are encouraged to build innovations with real-world applications developed to help users with health care, vocational safety, manufacturing, training, rehabilitation, and others. Students also have the opportunity to interact with local industries through the iPerform industry-university center.
UTA professors Hao Che and Hong Jiang developed a mathematical solution that could measurably improve computer user experiences, while balancing computing and network resource use. They have received a three-year, $1 million National Science Foundation grant to build prototypes.
The University of Texas at Dallas School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) program emphasizes creative thinking and design in curricula; experience design graduates apply theory to real-world scenarios in classrooms and in internships at area UX firms.
UTD programs focus on developing strong foundations in user interface design, sound design, video production, and digital fabrication—bringing digital creations into the physical world.
Students at UTD learn how to respond flexibly and imaginatively to the inevitable changes and disruptions of the market. They understand that people connect emotionally to objects and services around them, and seek to design rich and meaningful interactions.
ArtSciLab (within the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communications) fuses science, technology, creativity, and the arts, to advance human understanding. The lab immerses students into the field of UX design and allows them to wade into solving real-world problems.
For example, one collaboration with ArtSciLab involves a multidimensional opera created to explain the basic principles of a new space-time physics concept.
UNT DESIGN IN DENTON
The University of North Texas focuses on empathy and industry, and user collaboration.
Students in UNT’s communication design program are encouraged to take part in collaborative learning with recognized UX/UI companies to prepare them for the industry, upon graduation.
The program, located in UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD), offers the state’s only Master of Arts in design with a concentration in interaction design (MA in IxD), as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in the disciplines of graphic design and UX design/human-centered design (HCD).
UNT focuses on the people who will use the devices, technologies, services, systems, processes, and protocols created. Students explore the process of design thinking, which includes an emphasis on empathy for users.
UNT’s CVAD graduates more artists and designers than any other institution in Texas. The college will open a four-story, 133,000-square-foot addition and a renovation of its existing building in spring 2019 on its Denton campus. The MA in IxD is offered at UNT’s new college in Frisco.
SMU AUGMENTED ED
At Southern Methodist University, hands-on learning about design and UX focuses strongly on action and real-life application.
SMU’s User Experience Design Certificate was developed with industry leaders and is rapidly changing as new courses and topics are added.
The program’s core curriculum is amplified through the use of augmented reality, virtual reality, holograms, dashboard design, and branding on voice-enabled devices, and customer journey mapping.
SMU’s Guildhall graduate video game education program was ranked No. 1 in the nation by the Princeton Review. This program was the first in the world to offer a master’s degree in interactive technology and is the only program with specializations in all four cornerstones of game development: art, design, production, and programming. Guildhall has produced more than 650 alumni working at more than 250 studios.
A third arm of SMU design thinking and learning is the Master of Arts in design and innovation. Equipping students with the ability to solve complex issues through design thinking, courses tackle issues of social or public impact, among many others.
A version of this story was first published in Sept. 2018 in a Dallas Regional Chamber brochure: “Design With a Big ‘D'”.
PART 1: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
The DFW Experience
Part one examines DFW as a UX hotspot. Today, four out of 10 Texas user-experience professionals work in Dallas-Fort Worth.
PART 2: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
How the Big Design Conference Came to Be
Part two looks at the beginnings of the conference. Big Design co-founder Brian Sullivan shares its origin story.
PART 3: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Corporate by Design
Part three shares insights for how design pros help companies such as Walmart, Accenture, Bottle Rocket, Sabre, and more gain competitive advantage.
PART 4: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Leading by Design
Part four covers a few big thinkers who are leading by design at companies such as Capital One, BBVA, Intuit, and USAA. Whether it’s slaying piles of paper receipts at tax time or making shopping an adventure, these Dallas area thoughtleaders are making their marks in their respective industries. The common thread? Dogged persistence.
PART 5: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Meet 6 UX/UI Experts Delivering Solutions
UX/UI designers and experts are integral parts of many company operations and span across almost every industry. The Dallas-Fort Worth region has no shortage of thought leaders who are helping create the solutions for some of today’s most popular products. Here are six you need to know.
PART 6: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Norm Cox, Iconoclast: Creating a Legacy in Design
Tap a menu on your smartphone to pay for your coffee, or edit a Word doc. Either way, you can think of Norm Cox. The North Texan was was on the Xerox team that developed the graphical user interface systems that we still use today.
PART 7: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
XR: The Experience Extended
In the service economy, winners will be companies who can best anticipate customer needs and can provide the best customer experience. Enter Extended Reality. Here are four DFW companies making bets on its future.
PART 8: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
A Look Into the Future:
Industry Leaders Say Universities Provide UX Firepower
From developing autonomous trucks to incorporating science and the arts, universities in Dallas-Fort Worth are churning out UX-perts
PART 9: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Teaching the Next Evolution of UX Design Thinking
Multi-dimensional UX: Preston McCauley has been working to help UX professionals discover new ways to approach the craft.
PART 10: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
UTD’s Cassini Nazir on the First-Person Experience
It would make sense that the best education in user-experience would involve a first-person experience. It’s about finding needs and figuring out how to fill them.
PART 11: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
By the Numbers: Tech Roots Give DFW the Edge in UX/UI Boom
The user experience sector is exploding in Dallas-Fort Worth. That’s a good pairing with the region’s history as a high-tech hotbed.
PART 12: DESIGN WITH A BIG D
Creative Vault: Your Guide to Resources for Designers and UX/UI Pros in DFW
There are plenty of area associations, events, organizations, and educational institutions to help designers brainstorm, commiserate, learn, and hone their skills. Here’s our resource guide to get you started.
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