General Assembly UX design course, week 2: Creating a persona and solving their problem

Whoa, this class is moving along quick! This time last week, I was listening back to the user interviews I did about the process of finding new yoga classes. Now there are colorful sticky notes all over two walls of my office, and I’m starting to see the shape that my final project will take.

When I say “starting to see,” I mean that. I’ve concluded that users are saying that finding yoga classes is easy, but finding classes they’ll like is not, but I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem in a practical way.

In this post, I was going to go through all the work I’ve done and all the steps I’ve taken to get to the short list of features for my final project. But then I realized that that would be boring for you, the user. And I’m no expert yet, but I know that boring the user is probably bad UX. So I’ll just tell you about my favorite part, creating a user persona, if you want to keep reading.

Continue reading “General Assembly UX design course, week 2: Creating a persona and solving their problem”

General Assembly UX design course: Week 1

Right after my front end web development class ended, I decided to dive right into another class. This one is an intensive online workshop in UX design through General Assembly. The idea is to take students through the entire UX design process, from research to final product, in six weeks.

This first week was all about user research. The challenge was to pick an area to research, find some people who are interested in the topic to interview, and use what I learned during interviews to identify a problem. Then during the rest of the course, I’ll be creating a solution to that problem.

The topic I picked was the process of finding and choosing yoga classes, and to keep a long story short, I found that everyone I interviewed wished that process were different in some way. The most common thing people said was that they’d like more information about teaching styles or what poses a class will consist of before getting to the studio and stepping on their mat.

I ended up really getting into the process of doing user research and interviews. If you want to know more about what went well and what I’d like to improve, keep reading.

Continue reading “General Assembly UX design course: Week 1”

Reflections on a year of learning web development, and becoming a “computer person”

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 5.30.24 PM
The first website I created from scratch, in July 2017. 

Exactly a year ago, I was taking an intro to HTML and CSS workshop through an organization called Girl Develop It. I signed up for it because I’d just celebrated a big milestone in my personal life and I wanted to try something new and adventurous.

I know most people wouldn’t exactly consider making websites adventurous, but for most of my life until that point, I’d actually been somewhat afraid of technology.

Growing up, I associated technology — answering machines for the family business, 90s-era PCs that were a pain to set up, printers that never seemed to work right when a school paper was due — with stress. And nobody likes stress, so I learned to tell myself, “Well, I’m just not a computer person.”

I didn’t realize until I was 31 years old that “computer people” were just people. (I guess I’d always thought that people who were good with technology had some kind of innate superpowers that I just didn’t get somehow.) I was working around a lot of developers and engineers and I slowly started to realize I had things in common with them. As we humans tend to do, you know. Then I heard a great quote while listening to a story on The Moth podcast: “I don’t think that smart people are smarter than me, I think they read a book I didn’t read.”

Continue reading “Reflections on a year of learning web development, and becoming a “computer person””

Project summary: How I improved the user experience of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running website

Things are winding down for my front end web development course in the Code Louisville program. I finished all the required classes on Treehouse, I attended my last class meetup, and earlier this week, I turned in my project. It has to go through final review before I officially pass the course, but I’m pretty optimistic.

At this point, I thought it would be cool to do a look back at the project and how far it’s come over the past few months. If you just want to see the final version, it’s here. But if you want to see the project’s evolution, including screenshots of its (very) humble beginning, keep reading.

Continue reading “Project summary: How I improved the user experience of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running website”

How the party parrot is teaching me patience and programming languages

I don’t know how I originally discovered the party parrot emoji on Slack, but it was love at first sight. Apparently it is for a lot of people. The ridiculous emoji and all its variations have quite the cult following.

I think I love the party parrot because I am so not the party parrot. The party parrot would actually go to parties, and stay past 11 p.m. The party parrot is not constantly requesting for music to be turned down. And the party parrot has good dance moves.

You know what I don’t love, at least not yet? JavaScript. I’m almost to the end of the front end web development course in the Code Louisville program, and JavaScript still seems entirely foreign to me. However, I’m trying really, really hard not to say that things are terrible, or I’m terrible at them, just because I don’t understand them yet. I wrote a few weeks ago about how jQuery made a lot more sense to me than plain JavaScript, so I decided to start a new project there.

My idea for the project was a fairly simple one. It’s a site where you can click your birth month and it tells you which variation of the party parrot you are. If you just want to see the site, here it is: Which Party Parrot are you?

If you want to know how I created it, keep reading.

Continue reading “How the party parrot is teaching me patience and programming languages”

Lesson learned: Always read the instructions first

I made a TON of progress on my project last week, and I was really excited about it. I also learned two important lessons:

  1. If you’re designing something  that you want to look good on a smartphone screen, it’s probably a good idea to test that design on an actual phone, and not just by resizing the browser on your laptop.
  2. Reading the documentation and instructions for using a framework (or really, anything) before you start using it can prevent a lot of stress.

Want to know how I learned those lessons? Keep reading.

Continue reading “Lesson learned: Always read the instructions first”

Week 9: Project progress and a career leap of faith

a screenshot of the section of my project site with Triple Crown race names and dates

The items in the title of this post are in reverse order, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want, so let’s get to the big stuff first, shall we?

Last Friday was my last day as associate editor at TechRepublic, which was bittersweet. I’d been there for almost three years, I had a great group of coworkers, and I learned so much and gained a lot of professional self-confidence during that time. But moving on so I could focus more on learning and getting experience in web development and UX was what I felt like I needed to do.

At the beginning of this year, I was in a mediation class (I’m going to get all new age-y on you for a second.) and two words came to me: listen and honor. I decided to adopt those as sort of a mantra for this year, as much as I can. So a few weeks ago, when I thought about leaving my job, something just felt right, and I decided to listen to and honor that inner voice.

So anyway, my plan is to spend the next few months working on my Code Louisville project, doing online classes, and looking for and learning from any other resources I can find. Then I’ll be looking for opportunities to get my new career off the ground.

In other news,  I’ve had quite a bit of time to work on my  Louisville Triple Crown of Running project version 2.0 over the past couple days, so I’ve gotten it to a pretty good place. Not perfect, by any means, but good. (It’s hosted here, if you want to check it out.)

This seems like a good time to go item-by-item through all the changes I’ve made. If you’re into that kind of thing, stick around.

Continue reading “Week 9: Project progress and a career leap of faith”