Over the past 6 years, I have been educating myself in Interaction Design, User Experience testing and User Interface design. There is a great article from UX Matters about self education in these fields for those that are trying to learn more about the field.
The key suggestions are:
- Learn from your peers- If you are lucky enough to be working on a team, a great resource is going to be your fellow UX professionals.
- Read books, join mailing lists and use online resources- There are good lists already of the basics as well as more advanced topics to read about. Additionally, I have a RESOURCES page and a LINKS page to get you started. I have also blogged 5 Books Every Designer Needs
- Attend conferences- These are great places to meet other people in the industry and learn more about what is happening now and, more importantly, what is going to be happening in the future. I have blogged about the upcoming conferences: IxDA in Vancouver, BC & UPA2009 in Portland, OR
- Take courses- While I have somehow avoided taking formal courses so far, I do attend the workshops at the conferences, as well as the numerous webinars that are offered. In addition, there are often white papers published on the web that outline the theory and exercises that make up great courses. These can be found through the links on the RESOURCES page.
- Get Real world experience- This has been the hardest to accomplish as a new UX professional and also is also the best way to gain knowledge. There is no substitute for actuallly doing the job. volunteer, do an internship, attend testing sessions, whatever you can to see how these things are done.
The field of usability is full of helpful professionals who can get you started and point you in the right direction. Find a mentor, read some books and come to the conferences.