The best experience is one you design yourself
Forward-thinker. Designer. Experience engineer.
Robert Andruchow encountered his first line of code in university. “I went into computer science essentially to design software,” he recalls. “I thought you had to be a computer programmer to do the work that I’m doing now.”
For Robert, the analytical and creative sides of his brain have always been inexplicably intertwined, but it wasn’t until university that he realized how the two together could work to his advantage. “While I was in the computer science program, I took an introductory fine art fundamentals course, and the professor told me about the design program and its computer science route.”
He admits that graphic design had not been on his radar, but since then, the combination of design and digital opened a world of career possibilities for Robert. In fact, his experience and knowledge in user experience (UX) design is paving learning opportunities for the next generation of designers—and could lead to the creation of a strong digital economy in Alberta.
“ You have to marry programming with design, the human side of technology.”
“User experience is simply an evolution of the field, an acknowledgment that a designer working on digital products is concerned about the whole experience the user is going to have,” says Robert.
As MacEwan University’s Design Studies program coordinator, Robert is currently in the process of creating a UX major within the program’s proposed degree in design.
“Technology needs to be more than just programming,” he says. “You have to marry the programming with design, the human side of technology. We have the potential to create a centre of expertise in Edmonton to help companies and startups get the talent they need here, instead of having to look elsewhere. Edmonton has the potential to be the digital centre in the Prairies.”
Robert believes that good design solves everyday problems while making the world around us friendlier and more enjoyable.
“To answer the question of why is design important, it’s useful to point to examples of good design. The iPhone isn’t just an amazing engineering feat—it is beautiful, easy to use and treats the user like a human, not a robot. Our daily life should be full of products like this, experiences that make us enjoy doing simple things like answering the phone or browsing the internet, not dread it,” he says. “Design is most noticeable when it is done poorly. If you have ever used software or an app that is frustrating to use, it probably didn’t have a designer on the development team.” Design, he adds, is a marriage of engineering, art, communication, psychology and business.
“It’s important for us to strive to live in a world where pleasurable experiences are not found just in a gallery or theatre, but part of your everyday,” he continues. “Good architecture or good user experience design are things that generally contribute to one’s well-being—making life better and enjoyable.”
Robert Andruchow is an assistant professor and the program coordinator of the Design Studies program. Learn more at MacEwan.ca/DesignStudies.