Six things I learned during my six-week deep dive into UX design

Yesterday, I wrapped up my UX design class with General Assembly. It was only six weeks long, but I feel like I’ve come a long way since the beginning of August! When I started, I had a vague idea of what the design process looked like, but now I’ve actually been through every step of it.

Here are six things I learned:

1. You can learn something from every project, even if you create a product you don’t love.

ClassConnectorWork
A screenshot from my final set of wireframes.

Quite honestly, I didn’t love the product I created from this class. It’s not really that useful, and would probably not succeed in a real-world situation. However, this project helped me learn how to take an idea from observations written on Post-Its to a hi-fi, clickable wireframe. It also helped me practice persistence, even when there’s imperfection.

2. I already had some of the required skills for this type of work.

Before the class, I was pretty clueless about using tools like Sketch and InVision, but I was already (literally) a pro at interviewing and organizing information. My years of writing and editing taught me how to find things out through the interview process and then present those things in a way that makes sense.

3. Sticky notes are a valuable design tool.

affinity_map
Surrounded by notes from user interviews.

They were ALL over my office walls during this process. I know there are digital versions of sticky notes, but there’s something about physically writing on notes and being surrounded by them that makes the project more tangible. Which helps (for me, anyway) with empathy and thinking about what users want and need.

4. The ability to bite your tongue when testing your own work comes in handy.

When I was working on usability testing, I had a user who kept making feature suggestions. While he was doing this, I really wanted to say, “Just tell me if the thing works or not!” But I kept listening, and asking him to elaborate on some of his ideas, and sure enough, got some valuable feedback that informed the final design.

5. Usability testing is totally my jam.

Even if it did involve swallowing a bit of my pride in my design, the process of gathering feedback on what people like and what confuses them is so cool. I’m an observer by nature, so the idea of doing this as a career is pretty awesome.

6. This is definitely the career path I want to continue on.

I sort of came into UX design through the web development door, and I’m still taking web development classes. I know the two are closely related and you can do both, but I think my interests and talents are more within the areas of research and communication than coding. (Even though I do love getting lost for hours in a good website project.)

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