Interview with Christopher Reid Becker

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Christopher Reid Becker is the author of Learn Human-Computer Interaction, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey.

Christopher: In 2016 I got connected with Packt to work on a series of online video courses. The experience of putting together course for UX and UI design was unique and fun to work on. All the while I had been writing UX/UI articles on the side and it lead to a conversation about creating a book for Learn HCI and here we are…

Q: How long did it take you to write the book?

Christopher: I worked really hard for ~ 18 months for planning, writing, illustrating, and editing, but I’d like to think that the book has taken 39 years…(which is my current age)

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Christopher: As a designer every experience is research it is just a matter of perspective. It all added together. The reality is I have a BFA in graphic design an MFA in media design and I have been working and teaching in UX/UI/HCI which is to say my work, teaching and life experience has all gone into this book. Before I got started I spent 6 weeks interviewing students interested in HCI skills and consumed a lot of other HCI and UX resources.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Christopher: Learn HCI is from the point of view of human-centered design research tradition and starts with understanding humans first rather than focusing on technology first. Learn HCI focuses on guiding reading into practicing HCI skills rather than just exposing the reader to the ideas. So much of being an HCI designer is continuous learning and Learn HCI applies that ethos allows readers to grow their skills and start with a solid foundation.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Christopher: There are a number of software design technologies discussed including InVision, Figma, Vscode, Hotjar, and others but all of them are just tools to executing our thinking about users. Tools constantly change but methodologies and ways to think about users become a foundation to execute our tools on top of. HCI is not tool-centric it is user-centric.
If an HCI designer can not solve a problem with paper and pen there is no software tool that can bridge that gap. Software technology is birthed from humble means, cultivate those skills, and software teams can design > build > test using any tool.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Christopher: Writing is hard and many others have come before me in the HCI and UX field. This made it difficult when sharing important ideas and included references as I didn’t want to just makes the text feel like a amalgam or a reference guide. With the help of the editing team and my wife for reading drafts it helped cone t the dots and cone from my point of view.

Q: What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Christopher: Be curious. No one book will make you an HCI designer you need to keep consuming a lot. But tips:

  1. Don’t worry about job labels concentrate on the process.
  2. Don’t expect the world to hold your hand out in the work through practice.
  3. Put theory into practice.
  4. Take notes, dog ear pages, highlight the nuggets don’t be shy with marking up any book but especially this one.

Q. How do you keep up-to-date on your tech?

Christopher: Practice, practice, practice.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Christopher: https://link.medium.com/VKWeLtaC09

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Christopher: Uxdesign.cc

How would you describe you author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Christopher: A reliable train. The process moves along smoothly as long as you can keep consistency. I would recommend working with Packt as long as you can keep productivity.

You can find Christopher’s book on Amazon by following the links below the cover image:

Learn Human-Computer Interaction – Available on Amazon.com