Why UX Careers are Like Cheesecake: Book Cover Revealed!
As I considered the cover of the forthcoming UX Careers Handbook (and as a researcher myself), I did a review of the construction of other UX books to see how others had constructed their covers. A number of book covers only had stylized text. Others had a small and symbolic graphic representing a person, a person’s brain or something that symbolized design methods. Still others had animals, or in limited cases, the author of the book posed in some humorous way.
But all of these books were about UX methods, not careers. So how could I symbolically represent UX careers on the cover? I mulled over several ideas. Perhaps an umbrella hanging over the title since one of the themes of the book is that UX is an umbrella concept for a number of careers. But an umbrella is, well, kinda dreary.
What’s exciting? What’s bright and cheerful? What will get people puzzling for a moment (in a good way, I hope) about how, for the first time ever, food ended up on the cover of a UX book? How about cheesecake?
I showed a few colleagues the picture that is now on the cover and said – hey, if you saw this on the cover of The UX Careers Handbook, what might it mean? By and large, the answers I got were more or less what I was hoping I’d hear.
So, cheesecake it is!
Cheesecake is tasty.
However it’s prepared, cheesecake is tasty. And UX careers – they’re certainly super exciting to those who immerse themselves in the profession. In fact, when you are a UX professional and explain to your friends and family what you do, they may be a little envious of how tasty your career really sounds. You may even find that they’ll start to wonder how they can transition their own careers into this ever-growing field.
All cheesecakes have similarities.
No matter how you flavor your cheesecake, it’s still cheesecake. It has similarities to all the other flavors of cheesecake out there. The way the cover image is constructed, all the flavors of cheesecake form a single whole dessert. Similarly, no matter whether you’re an interaction designer, user researcher or information architect, or one of the many other UX-framed fields, what you have in common with all the other UX professionals is a care and concern with the users of the product.
Each type of cheesecake still has its own unique flavor.
As I cover in the book, an employer shouldn’t just say “I want to hire a UX professional.” That can mean so many things, as there are so many different types of UX skills. Rather, even as the employer expects a solid understanding of UX (like the base construction of each type of cheesecake), the employer should carefully select a well-chosen slice of the UX field to represent a job description for the next hire.
Similarly, as a UX professional, while it’s important to clearly brand yourself as a UX professional, you’re always going to have your own collection of skills and experiences that make you unique and special and that give you your own flavor on the job market.
Even unique cheesecake slices have overlapping flavors.
When you look at the cover image, you may at first think that each of the pictured cheesecake slices fully has its own flavor. But that’s not entirely accurate. Notice how chocolate threads its way through some cheesecake slices but not others. Notice the berry flavors that sometimes find their way into cheesecake slices and sometimes don’t. These represent the overlapping skills that can occur even when, for example, when two UX professionals have different specialties.
Cheesecake is international.
While the exact cheesecake pictured isn’t necessarily going to fully translate globally (since a number of countries have a unique spin on cheesecake, whether it’s the type of cheese used, how its cooked, or the additional flavors, colors or crust), it still looks like the tasty dessert that it is to people across the globe. Similarly, while there are certainly going to be variations in UX careers across the globe (which the book does try to note, whenever possible), UX roles remain recognizable globally. This allows for wonderful international conferences where everyone can speak a language of UX commonality.