After five years experience in practical and theoretical neuroscience, Melanie Araujo decided it was time to start exploring other opportunities. She grappled with the decision to attend grad school in London, but wasn’t completely sold – there was another fit out there.
Knock out some unfinished resolutions before the clock strikes 12, and ring-in the new year with a clean slate and new skills.
We’re sharing some of our favorite tips from experts in Product Management, Front-End Web Development, and UX Design for some last-minute lessons. It’s never too late to get started.
- Test your new business idea
- Prepare to get the job of your dreams
- Learn a new (programming) language
- Get your website live
Meet Grace Akotey, a graduate of General Assembly London’s 12-week User Experience Design program. A self-taught designer, Grace is now a full-time web designer with Crystal Ski Holidays, working on UX related projects and a full re-branding of their website.
1. What led you to User Experience (UX) Design?
I’ve always been a visual person. As a self-taught graphic and web designer, I’ve tried many things – from fashion to working in the city to freelancing – but there came a point in time where I wanted to get to the next level. A UX designer I worked with planted a seed of curiosity, and from there I started researching the topic and reading blog posts, and ended up enrolling at General Assembly.
2. What excites you about UX?
I feel that UX can sometimes be overlooked because it’s not tangible – it has no physical attribute, you can’t hold it in your hands. So what gets me excited is actually knowing how much thought and understanding of the user goes into each part of an experience. The best websites end up being the best exactly because of that.
3. What’s an example of good UX you’ve seen in real life?
Think about an ATM. After you’ve put in your card and punched in your PIN, what does the biggest button say? ‘10 Pounds No Receipt’. Someone has worked out the most frequent choice people make. That’s good UX right there. Continue reading
When General Assembly decided to add a new full-time, immersive program to its suite of educational offerings, user experience (UX) design was the clear topic of choice. UX is a rapidly growing field looking for talented designers passionate about shaping the future, and we were excited to design a program that prepared these folks to do just that. With that, the User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) program was born.
UXDI is truly the first of its kind. We’ve been able to take skills and methods that have developed over the last 20 years and turned them into one of the first formal programs to teach UX design. Through the process of creating the course, we learned a lot about how UX should be taught, and developed the following three guiding philosophies:
1. Embrace Ambiguity
“It depends” is a key part of any UX designer’s vocabulary, but its use in a classroom environment can lead to pretty significant frustration. There are plenty of reasons why teaching UX is quite ambiguous; this is, after all, a rapidly evolving field that prides itself on prioritizing the user and not trying to find the best answer, but rather going after better answers.
1. What led you to learn user experience (UX) design?
I previously worked as a product manager at Christie’s auction house, responsible for the design and development of christies.com and their mobile apps. My product management role at Christie’s was very UX-focused, but I wanted to have a broader understanding of UX principles, best practices and deliverables.
2. Tell us more about your most recent UX design project.
I recently launched a DIY baking company called Chloe Doughy that delivers ready-to-bake monthly cookie dough projects. The first version of the Chloe Doughy website was a simple Rails app. I took GA’s 12-week UX Design course to take my idea and prototype to the next level, starting with creating personas and ending with designing userflows and wireframes. I’ve since launched the latest version of Chloe Doughy using my work from the course.
Meet Kate Zasada, graduate (and now Teaching Assistant) of General Assembly’s 12-week User Experience Design course. She’s come a long way in the nine months since she first started learning at GA, and has quite a bit to show for it, including a new job at Shapeways, the world’s leading 3D printing marketplace and community. — Mollie McCormick, General Assembly
Name: Kate Zasada (@kzasada)
Occupation: Product Manager, Shapeways
1. Did you have a specific moment when you decided that you wanted to do user experience (UX) design?
I was feeling a little lost in my career and took a bunch of classes across a wide array of disciplines at General Assembly (GA). One Sunday morning, I decided to take a half-day UX design workshop. I remember it being 8 am, raining, and just really crappy outside — but I was on the edge of my seat with excitement. I thought, “What we’re discussing is jiving 100% with how I feel, these people understand me! This is what I should be doing with my life.”
2. How did learning UX design help you in your career?
Even though my title isn’t “UX designer,” I am doing more UX design as part of my job as Product Manager (PM) at Shapeways. After all, many decisions PMs make directly influence a product’s UX. Like the UX and Interaction Designers I work with, I also ask myself “What do our users want?”, then work with my team to create solutions to address their needs.
1. When did you first get into UX design?
I’ve been a designer for 18 years. I first started learning about “UX” when I was still studying at Carnegie Mellon in the early 90’s. The term UX actually did not even exist back then. It was called GUI (Graphical User Interface) or just Interface Design. Those were the days when Photoshop only had one layer and the first websites were gray background with a huge jpeg on Mosaic browsers. (Post 80’s and 90’s won’t know what I’m talking about!)
2. What is “UX”?
User Experience means many things to many people even among industry practitioners. Some people understand User Experience as web interfaces, however UX is really much wider than that. The scope of UX can be every single interaction the user has with a company. In my view, UX is actually a work process and cultural change in organizations that focuses on the end-user.
Name: Luke Miller (@younglucas)
Occupation: UXDI Instructor, General Assembly
1. In 140 characters or less, what is user experience (UX) design?
UXD shapes how you feel while interacting with something. It is shaped by the look, language and feedback of a system across platforms.
2. If a website were a ______, UX design would be ______?
I like this breakfast cereal metaphor.
Name: Jacob Cohen
Classes Taught: Naming Essentials, Innovating with the Business Model Canvas
Jacob’s history with computers began in 1984 with a diploma for “computer excellence” from Ronald Reagan, a document held in low regard by his tech-savvy but liberal Oregon family. Over the course of his career his focus has been on creating and designing engaging experiences for users using innovative technology. He loves technologies that make life more convenient and improve communication. Over the last 12 years he’s developed a talent for building teams of designers and developers driven by a focused strategy and pushing the boundaries of technology.