Tag Archives: user experience

5 Ways to Inspire Your Design Teams

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2018 99u Conference General Assembly

Tyler Hartrich, faculty lead for General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive course, leads a session at the 2018 99u Conference. Photos by Craig Samoviski.

As design educators, we at General Assembly prepare students for their careers — but how can we ensure designers continue to grow their skills beyond the classroom? Industry-leading work emerges from teams that persistently enrich themselves by fostering new skill sets and perspectives. But between deadlines, client fire drills, and day-to-day trivialities, a focus on growth can often be put on the back burner. In the long-term, this can result in uninspired designers who don’t grow to their full potential, and teams that opt for the easy way out instead of taking on risks, challenges, and explorations that drive innovation.

When Adobe approached General Assembly about leading a session at the 99u Conference — an annual gathering for creative professionals to share ideas and get inspired to help shape the future of the industry — we knew it would be a great opportunity to guide leaders in creating natural spaces for learning within their teams and workflows.

In our sold-out session “Onboard, Engage, Energize: Tactics for Inspiring a Crack Design Team,” Tyler Hartrich, faculty lead of GA’s full-time User Experience Design Immersive course, and Adi Hanash, GA’s former head of Advanced Skills Academies, shared insights on how directors and managers can structure spaces for learning within their teams, and encourage new approaches to problem-solving. The presentation was developed in collaboration with Senior Instructional Designer Eric Newman and me, GA’s director of product design.

At the event, we outlined the following five ways leaders can encourage their teams (and themselves) to keep learning and improving throughout their careers, including an exercise to spur creativity, reflection, and action. Read on to learn more, and find out how you can perform the exercise with your own team.

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Don’t Frustrate Users With Gaps in Your Product Experience

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There are countless steps where the product experience can break down.

There are countless steps where the product experience can break down.

There are countless steps where the product experience can break down. Have you ever been waiting at the corner for a ride-sharing pickup, and while the app swears the driver is right there, there is no car in sight? Or how about seamlessly ordering groceries in an app, then waiting well past the delivery window with no sign of your avocados? Ever called customer service by phone to learn they have no record of the two detailed chats you had with online agents about your issue? We’ve all been there.

As consumers who increasingly rely on technology to help us wrangle a vast range of goods and services, we’ve all experienced pain points when really good software doesn’t equate a really good experience. All too often, there’s a breakdown that occurs outside product screens, when a product or process hits the reality of the human experience or a user fails.

Take a peek at the diagram above, which charts the various user touch points that can occur with your brand in a product experience loop. Users interact with a product through many different channels and modes of communication, and bridging the gaps between them is essential to your product’s success. If you present users with a custom call to action in a social media ad, your customer service teams must be ready to respond. If you build an offer email that is redeemable at a brick-and-mortar retail location, the cashier will need tools to redeem it.

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User Experience Design Impacts Everyone — But What Is It?

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What is user experience design General Assembly

People often associate the term “user experience design” with visual design or the design of a digital interface, like a website or mobile app. But the truth is, user experience (UX) design is bigger than that, and it’s used across every industry, from software, to business, to schools, and beyond.

Successful UX design is why shopping on Amazon is addictive, ride-sharing apps like Uber are thriving, and binge watching TV shows from any number of services has become the best way to spend a weekend indoors — skillful UX design has made it insanely easy to do. Even physical spaces are impacted by UX design: Think strategic layouts of department stores with enticing buys at every turn or the always-moving checkout lines at Trader Joe’s.

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Founding a Company Entirely on UX Design: How GA Grads Started Jewelry Company Vrai & Oro

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General Assembly grads Vrai and Oro

For years, Chelsea Nicholson and Vanessa Stofenmacher felt that the fine jewelry on the market just wasn’t for them. They wanted to make a statement with pieces that were classic yet attainable, and had an inkling other women felt the same. After graduating from General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive program in Los Angeles, they decided to do something about it.

The pair, who were friends before they were classmates, teamed up to launch Vrai and Oro — a Warby Parker-style fine jewelry startup that embodies UX principles its core. Vrai and Oro means truth (in French) and gold (in Spanish), and the name is reflected in the company’s values: quality, simplicity, and transparency. Chelsea and Vanessa produce their jewelry with ethically sourced materials in downtown Los Angeles — without designer markups. And, true to their UX-driven brand, their website and eCommerce platform is minimalistic and image-driven for easy use.

We caught up with Chelsea to learn more about Vrai & Oro, the site’s user experience, and how GA helped the co-founders achieve their goals.

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Why Design Thinking Matters

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Design thinking at work

Design thinking isn’t just about the visual outcome of a product. Rather, it’s a method of creatively and practically solving problems that keeps the user top of mind. Understanding the user’s wants and needs allows us to make more accurate decisions during the inspiration, production, and iteration phases of building a product. The outcome, hopefully, is intuitive products and services that actually improve users’ lives.

I spoke with Maya Weinstein, Sr. Designer at IBM Watson, about her thoughts on the design thinking method.

In your own words, what is IBM design thinking?

Design thinking has existed in some form for the past 20 years. What makes IBM Design Thinking unique is scale. IBM is a massive company and this is the first time design thinking is being implemented at a company of this size with this degree of training. We have an entire division, the IBM Design Education, whose sole focus is to train the entirety of IBM on the practice of Design Thinking. By training engineers, product managers, marketers, and executives on how to think like a designer, we are able to bring design thinking to a mass corporate level. This is design thinking in a company at scale.

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The 6 Essential Tools for Every UX Designer

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UX

It can be extremely intimidating to any UX designer, particularly someone just starting out, to navigate the overcrowded world of design tools. There seems to be a tool for everything from user research to wireframing to prototyping.

So how do you know which tools to learn or least familiarize yourself with? Fear not! Below we’ve broken down some of the top industry tools for a variety of contexts and workflows. While this is not a comprehensive list, it will give newbies a sense of some industry musts, while providing some further suggestions for the more seasoned designers among us.

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From Electronic DJ to Systems Architect for NASA: How One Alum is Crafting Her Dream Career

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General Assembly alumni Jade
Jade Johnson is a recent grad of User Experience Design Immersive at General Assembly’s Los Angeles campus, where she met “a crew of like-minded thinkers.” After graduating from GA, she briefly worked for NASA as a systems architect. Now, she is living in Berlin and pursuing her career in UX Design. Jade’s love for user experience has helped her build a rewarding career around her artist lifestyle.
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6 Careers That Benefit From UX Skills

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user-experience-careers

User experience is an interdisciplinary field in its own right, but the concepts, tools, and techniques UX designers use trickle into neighboring professions as well. Understanding the core concepts of user experience can help improve your work in a variety of careers from web development to marketing and design.

Let’s take a look at a range of careers that involve and/or are affected by user experience.

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CEO as Chief Experience Officer

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ux tools

In today’s changing business landscape, user experience (UX) is quickly becoming a key differentiator allowing brands to cut through the noise and create a unique value proposition for their customers. It makes sense; what could be more valuable to a customer than having a great experience?

Within major corporations, if addressed at all, UX has traditionally been siloed within product and design teams instead of being treated as a company-wide initiative. UX is vital not only for product teams, but also for marketing, sales, customer service, and even HR. (Employees are users too–EX as we call it at GA!)

When examining some of the standout brands that have adopted a more holistic strategy around user experience, the results are strikingly clear. Almost every one of today’s most valuable companies is run by a CEO who puts user experience first–Chief Experience Officers. Let’s look at a few examples:

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How Can UX Design Make Sense of Big Data?

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ux-data-blog-picjumbo

Big data is just what it sounds like; data so big that it’s not easily processed through conventional methods. However, once this large data set is eventually distilled down, user experience can play a huge role in making sense of the reports and leading the charge for user-centered solutions.

User experience (UX) is the bridge between big data analytics and the end user. The richness of big data being collected by all types of companies has unleashed a treasure trove of information for user experience designers. UX designers can create more robust solutions for users by analyzing these enormous data sets.

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