[Sponsored article] “The role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests” – Charles Eames, American designer Connecting with customers is something almost all organisations want to do, but they achieve that aim with greatly varying degrees of success. For the most part, people are the key to building relationships with customers. They provide feedback to help the organisation stay competitive and relevant. Engaging with customers is essential to success and, therefore, it is important to design user experiences that are pleasant and genuinely able to create a connection with customers, especially when the interaction is not person to person. A new user experience (UX) programme, the bachelor of fine arts, or B.F.A., in UX design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Hong Kong) offers the skills and knowledge to make students highly employable across a broad range of industries. Created in collaboration with technology giant Google, the four-year programme is a direct response to that company’s call for more well-trained UX designers. Derek Black, associate dean of academic services at SCAD Hong Kong notes that UX designers are now in-demand professionals. They have the know-how to create digital and physical solutions, services and products “that reinvent and reinvigorate how companies connect with customers and stay competitive.” The current generation of UX designers mainly honed their skills in three disciplines: computer science, graphic design and interactive design. However, the new SCAD Hong Kong programme offers a far more holistic perspective experience by blending skills from all three disciplines. According to Black, anyone who goes into UX design must be able to wear a number of hats. “They need to harness the power of technology to help organisations understand how customer behaviour drives decisions,” he says. “They must also interpret the results so the product and service offerings can evolve.” He adds that a well-rounded UX designer must be a skilled researcher, an effective programmer and a visionary. At SCAD Hong Kong, students will learn how to master all three roles, while developing the creative, technical and analytical skills needed to take on future challenges. Students will apply research methodologies to help uncover and understand the wants, needs and motivations of individual customers. They must then communicate this information to software developers to bring about innovative solutions and front-end prototypes. The programme pays due attention to four key areas: human behaviour, technical proficiency, aesthetics and collaboration. The curriculum includes courses on human/computer interaction and the core principles of programming, graphic design, typography and UX design. Prospective students should be interested in how products and services work and the reasons behind their creation and development. “If you are interested in improving the human experience, or developing and executing solutions, the B.F.A. in UX design for you,” Black says. “Key requirements include the ability to observe, program and design, as well as the skills needed to do research, identify problems and create solutions.” There are careers for everything from front-end developers and information architects to mobile application designers and UX strategists in a number of fields and industries.