An experience architect does not design buildings—she or he uses interdisciplnary methods to design information or artifacts to be used by people who want or need to access a variety of material at any given time on a variety of platforms and devices. The experience architect believes that information must be easily accessible, intuitively designed, and ethically constructed for people. We call that “creating a positive user experience,” which means an organization deliberately designs positive experiences for the people who use their products, which could range from a website with health care data and plans to accessing a bank statement with a mobile app.
The Experience Architecture major will provide you with versatile tools and skills in research and design to prepare you to lead teams, design information, and research the needs of different types of users throughout the world. Graduates of this program will work with many organizations—from software companies to nonprofits—to help each organization build positive user experiences for their clientele. You will receive cutting edge coursework in project management, web authoring, content management, user-experience research, interactive design, and much more, making you an expert at identifying and advocating for the needs of users and familiar with divergent software environments and platforms. Coursework is also centered around the idea of collaboration and teamwork as all of your classmates will have different strengths whether they be made up of engineers, designer, and information designers.
XA's home is in the Humanities because of our empathy for people. A variety of methods and philosophies exist for creating websites, apps, services, policies, and etc., but we believe in a people-centered approach that enables users of things like websites, apps or any other digital environment or service to interact in ways that creates positive and valuable experiences. Such an approach requires a strong foundation in understanding the contexts of people and societies.
There are many well-known XA professionals practicing in the field today. You can look up the work of Kim Goodwin, Jared Spool, Leah Buley, Peter Merholz, and many others. You might also look up the work being done at Conferences such as UX Week, SIGDOC, etc.
For general questions about the degree, please contact Director of the XA Major Dr. Liza Potts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact our advisor Laura Essig at email@example.com.
In short, yes, you can. However, you should make sure to discuss this decision with our advisor, Laura Essig at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are important differences between a secondary major and an additional major that you should understand.
In the newly expanded version of The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman explains "...in the early 1990s, the group I headed at Apple called itself 'the User Experience Architect's Office...'" It is arguable that experience architecture has roots in Taylorism. Leah Buley claims "...Taylor's research into the efficiency of interactions between workers and their tools was an early precursor to much of what UX professionals think about today..."
As products, services, and policies continue to evolve, so will XA. Peter Merholz, in part, explains why XA will continue to be a viable and emerging career. “User experience arises from the sum total of interactions with an organization’s products and services.” Studying and architecting positive, valuable experiences for people will likely continue to be a vital part of many organizations an institutions.
There is a study abroad for XA students through the Professional Writing program in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures Department. For more information about study abroad opportunities visit the WRAC page: http://wrac.msu.edu/professional-writing/study-abroad/.
Coursework will give you opportunities for gaining broadly applicable skillsets in experience design, usability, user experience research methods, and project management. Additionally, the major will expose you to a variety of new technologies.
You will be exposed to hands-on coursework that prepares you for the workplace. Additionally, your classes will introduce you to the theoretical understanding that will be useful and applicable to the practice of XA in any field.
One project that all XA students will complete through out their classes are Professional Portfolios, created and coded completely from scratch in Intro to Web Authoring and expanded and improved upon in Advanced Web Authoring. Not only are these extremely useful for students to showcase their skillsets and projects to future employers, but they are able to learn coding in things like CSS3 and HTML5 throughout the process. See our XA Alumni portfolios for examples.