Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a field of study and practice that is fast gaining more popularity. The field actually began in the early 1980s as a subfield of computer science that includes cognitive science and human factors engineering. It is an academic discipline that most of us think of as UI design, but it is concerned with how humans and computers interact at ever-increasing levels of both complexity and simplicity.
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The separate disciplines that make up Human-computer interaction (HCI)
According to John Carroll, Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University, the discipline of Human-Computer Interaction emerged in 1980 as the separate disciplines of Cognitive Science, Engineering, and Documentation began to realign around a single goal: making computing more accessible to the general public. These separate disciplines are:
Cognitive sciences: a broad category that includes psychology, language, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and even anthropology, made steady progress in the 1970s and by the end of the decade had helped articulate the systems and science needed to develop user interfaces that worked for the masses.
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Engineering: also known as “cognitive engineering,” this is the process of creating things that work with our thoughts. Engineering, for example, had already begun to simplify the user interface of complex airplanes. Some of this work naturally migrated into the UI field for computing devices.
Documentation: New systematic approaches were required to record developments and share them with other practitioners of the new discipline around the world. After all, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel over and over again.
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A degree in Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience (HCI/UX) equips students with the practical skills required for a career in user experience (UX) and design.
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Career Path for an HCI/ UX degree
More HCI/UX professionals will be needed in the coming years to interpret, design, and implement products, websites, and environments with the user in mind as technology become more integrated into our economy. HCI/UX graduates can work in any industry that uses technology to connect with customers or clients, including manufacturing, information technology, finance, healthcare, and government institutions.
The average salary for those with a master in Information with a Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience pathway is more than $91,000 per year, with the potential to earn more in the future. Having a Master’s degree in Human-computer interaction and UX is beneficial in the United States and other parts of the world.
Career Prospects for a HCI/ UX degree
- Front-End Designer/Developer
You’ll be able to connect the dots between graphical design and technical implementation to create the most user-friendly, intuitive web experience possible by gaining a solid knowledge foundation in user experience. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a front-end designer/developer is around $77,000 per year.
- Product Managers & Designers
Product designers are problem solvers by nature; they evaluate existing products and improve them through design and technology to better serve individuals and/or businesses. A product manager or designer’s starting salary is $106,766 per year, according to Glassdoor.
- Interaction Designer
In designing a product (including wireframes and prototypes), interaction designers consider a variety of factors and features to help the user achieve the best possible outcome, such as user behavior, motion, sound, time, physical environment, and/or overall look and feel. An interaction designer’s annual salary ranges from $61,000 to $115,000, with an average annual base pay of $88,124, according to Glassdoor.
- User Experience Designer/Researcher
A user experience designer or user experience researcher is skilled in analyzing and identifying the identity and behavior of end users to design more effective products. The user experience researcher salary ranges from $62,000 to $130,000, with an average annual base pay of around $90,600, according to Glassdoor.
- Human Factors Engineer
Human Considerations Engineers work at the intersection of humans and technology, creating objects, facilities, and environments that take into account the principles and theories of human experience and ergonomics. A human factors engineer’s annual salary ranges from approximately $62,000 to $121,000, with an average salary of $82,670 (Based on PayScale data).
HCI/ UX courses are available online for anyone residing in any part of the world.