I would like to be a software engineer (I am a computer science grad), but I would like to focus on user interaction/experience/interface design. Although I would love to get more into the design I read (http://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1863/as-a-programmer-how-do-i-move-into-user-experience-design),
Also how "graphical" do these designers usually have to be? Will I have to demonstrate artistic abilities in software such as photoshop, flash, and other graphic disciplines?
( 3 months ago )
The whole idea behind UX design is that it's based on solid data about what users do and how and why. A lot of UX therefore consists of studying user behaviors and preferences, which means you need to know things like:
What research methodologies are available for studying user behavior?
How do I design a study which will tell me what I want to know?
How do I find and recruit subjects within the target demographics?
What ethical guidelines should I follow when conducting a study?
How do I interpret vague or contradictory data?
How do I use the data to inform decisions about UI?
How do I convince my bosses that all this research is worth the time and money?
You do need to know programming in addition to all this stuff, because your decisions about UI have to be informed by a knowledge of what is technically feasible within the platform you're working on. However, as a comp sci major, you probably already have a reasonable grasp of that, and you can study and pick up more languages/platforms as they become relevant to projects you're working on.
As for the graphic design aspect, it certainly helps to have that. You're likely going to wind up mediating disputes between programmers and designers. It helps a lot to know enough of both disciplines that you can hold an intelligent conversation with both parties. So yeah, study that too, but you don't necessarily need to become a dedicated graphic designer yourself.
UX is one of those fields where you have to learn an awful lot about an awful lot to get really good at it. Just keep piling on the topics