David Farkas, a dual degree graduate alumnus from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (BFA & BS 2008), recently released his book UX Research: Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products. The book, which was co-authored with Brad Nunnally, serves as a primer and desk reference for product designers who need help with design research fundamentals.
Farkas currently works as an Associate Director of UX with EPAM. Working in a software/engineering consultancy with more than 20,000 employees, Farkas specializes in user experience design and methodologies. His projects combine UX research with applied visual design to culminate with full stack engineering.
Inspired from his professional experience, UX Research: Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products gave Farkas the perfect opportunity to pay forward the learning and mentoring he has received.
“The aim of this book is to prime people interested in the field of User Experience,” said Farkas. “It can also be used as a practical handbook by students and young professionals to understand different research methods. With each chapter illustrating a 5-10 minute activity, this book can be used to practice conducting research on a daily basis.”
“Design is a collaborative as well as a reflective process,” he added. “Writing the book helped me understand gaps in my own knowledge. By working with Brad Nunnally, we were able to continually validate our own perspectives and create a unified voice about research rather than our individual biases.”
Farkas notes that the interdisciplinary nature of Carnegie Mellon University helped fuel the research behind his work and the book.
“In-field research requires adapting to participant’s expectations, environment and norms,” said Farkas. “Anyone can learn to be a UX practitioner and some of the best practitioners I work with and have learned from come from fields other than design backgrounds. My coauthor has a background in computer science. Being said, the education I received at CMU gave me an understanding for design methodologies that is often difficult to gain solely from experience. Outside of the classroom my exposure to different disciplines and even my time practicing improv through the No Parking Players has daily impact on my work and success as a designer.”
During his senior year, Farkas would often run home to change between polos and khakis into work boots and hard hats, as he was involved with two capstone projects, one focused on medical practitioners and the other in blue collar/construction workers respectively.
“CMU offers a great foundation in design while surrounding students in liberal arts and technical sciences,” continued Farkas. “This mix of a student body is what sets CMU Design apart from a pure-arts college. The experiences and perspectives gained in class, in projects, and even booth or buggy, are not available in programs where everyone has the same background and knowledge of the arts.
“I would say the greatest thing I learned at CMU that comes up daily is the confidence to figure out the unknown and the awareness of how to fill the gaps in my knowledge.”