Learn. Iterate. Apply: An insider’s guide to a UX course

Learn. Iterate. Apply: An insider’s guide to a UX course

Having recruited for UX for some time now, I felt the itch to head back to school to commence a 12-week part time course in the field.

It was a great feeling finishing the General Assembly UX course less than a fortnight ago, not because it was over, but because I now understand must more of the practicalities of UX and I am able to join in sense of accomplishment amongst the group. We were fortunate to learn from Lawrence So (Lead UX at NBN), and at the end of the course his comments by and large were that every single one of us had progressed in leaps and bounds from our first course presentation, through to our mid-course assessment and into our final projects.

Admittedly, the final project presentation was still daunting but by that point we had all got to know one another much better and it was then a case of presenting to familiar faces. Throughout the course, Peace Chattiya (Apple, Symplicit) our Teaching Assistant had been a full of support, and I was very grateful for her tips on sketching, Mac shortcuts and learning not to fear prototyping too much.

When you look at the course objectives of the course and the outcomes, I can happily say that each was met, and I’m sure the others in the class with agree. GA provide the guidance through the class aims, and the rest is what you make of it yourself as an individual. While the full-time course covers vastly more material, I was pleased to be able to pursue the areas of UX that interest me, and I can put time and effort into that.

Highlights for me included the research phases and conducting User Testing, something that led me to change the designs quite drastically just two weeks from the final presentation date. For those following at home, my course project aimed to help individuals through the Permanent Resident application process in Australia – something that I’ve recently experienced. User testing influenced my final design as individuals enjoyed having the ‘Dropbox’-style feature whereby they could look at their uploaded documents on a mobile device, while the complexity and serious nature of the forms still needed to be done on a computer. When interviewing an Immigration Agent, I also learnt that it could actually be breaching legality by re-designing these forms. My end solution was desktop first, with auto-fill fields for the form when the user had uploaded certain documents, which were also accessible on a mobile using adaptive web design. This experience feeds back to one of the main points that this is an iterative process and that you should always be talking to potential users throughout any stage.

The area I struggled the most was deciding which design tools to use, as there are so many! I am now working through online tutorials in Sketch and InVision where I can. I am also looking forward to attending Ben Crother’s Sketching for User Experience next week to help me improve in this area. It was a great experience learning about re-designing services more holistically in Jonathan Duhig’s Design Thinking Bootcamp in the same week as finishing the UX course too. These were highly engaging workshops and I recommend anyone interested to attend the next one!

Without wanting to sound like a recruiter during the GA course, I enjoyed giving some tips to my classmates about utilising their transferable skills. If you’re considering giving UX a go I encourage you to give it a crack. I was so pleased to receive Lawrence’s final email with feedback on my project, and while I was nervous seeing what was inside, there wasn’t any reason to be as the staff and GA set everyone up for success.

If you have any experience studying UX that you’d like to share – the challenges, the wins – we’d love to hear from you on Twitter @MitchelLake.