Meet Angela Schmidt, Online User Experience Design Mentor


Emotionally Driven Design

Angela Schmidt boasts a robust portfolio of user experience (UX) and product design work for clients including Montblanc, Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen, Axe, Spotify, LG, NickJr, FreshDirect, Prudential, and Lincoln. She now passes on the creative wisdom she’s earned as a mentor for General Assembly’s part-time online User Experience Design course. We asked Angela to share a bit of what she’s learned throughout her UX career; here are her responses.

How would you define UX design in two sentences?

UX is transforming existing conditions into preferred ones through problem-solving and listening. It's creating the shortcuts to positive emotional responses.

What’s an example that embodies the best of what UX design can and should accomplish in real life?

Cliché as it may sound, Airbnb. When a product (or brand or service) becomes a verb or adjective, you know it has done something right. Airbnb started off small with its core offering and has slowly expanded its empire based on user demands and A/B testing within the realm of travel. Its marketing, copy, design, and cross-platform functionality are spot on. It makes the process of looking and booking accommodations fun and easy — that's the very best of UX.

What are the personal qualities that set someone up for success in the field of UX?

It should be noted that each UX job can vary wildly and there is no single defining characteristic. Here’s just a sample of some of the core competencies I believe to be instrumental in success:
  • An ability to use quantitative information to inform creative and business solutions, keeping an eye on trends and current technology.
  • Deep process thinking (always asking “why?”).
  • Sensitivity to the power of language.
  • The ability to gather a bunch of information and weed through it to find the important bits (requirement gathering, business opportunities, etc.).
  • Willingness to try new methods of research and design to better understand your target audience.
  • The capability to receive teammates’ feedback while maintaining contrarian perspectives when warranted.
  • An interest in business, marketing, strategy, research, design, and tech.

Why should someone learn user experience design’s essential skills at GA?

The range of content types available to absorb the material, the frequently updated case studies and references, the simple five-phase breakdown of the design process, 1:1 sessions, template-based worksheets, flexibility with work-life schedules, and active learning opportunities (submit your unit project now, answer this quiz, etc.).