We follow the journeys of some of our UX Mentorship Program mentees each month as they learn about UX and work towards getting their first UX jobs.

This months mentees

Ellen Henderson

Ellen Henderson

Twitter: @ellen_hen
LinkedIn

Tara Lee York

Tara Lee-York

Twitter: @taraleeyork1
Linkedin

Fabiola Borquez

Fabiola Borquez

Twitter: @fabi_borquez

1. How did you get interested in UX?

Ellen

Until after university, I didn’t have any understanding of what types of jobs a person could have in the tech sector. My first job out of college was working at an accelerator program for women-led businesses in the tech industry, and that opened my eyes to the world of building products. I became fascinated with the tech sector as a whole, the energy, how people are driving their dreams forward, as well as seeing the newest and most innovative ideas.

I became interested in what sort of work is done to actually make these things happen, so I began looking into what types of jobs there were that help create new apps and websites. This is when I first heard about UX design.

UX is hard to define because it manifests differently in different environments, that’s what I heard a lot when trying to figure out exactly what it was. But what drew me to it was more the soft skills that are needed. I really enjoy taking something complicated and making it as easy as possible for other people.

I also like understanding people’s motivations and being surprised by different ways of thinking. I love to learn and try new things. From what I’ve read, these are all important aspects of UX, and that is why I decided to start working towards my first UX job.

Tara

In 2013, I started to get interested in learning technology. My first experience was taking an online graphic design course and watching numerous videos from the Lynda.com library.

While I enjoyed learning about design, I found myself wondering about the psychology behind why the designs existed in the first place. Late 2014, I came across Hacker Design and read many of their articles, which sparked my interested further.

In 2015, I found Careerfoundry’s UX Course. During the course, I had a great mentor; she had a lot to do with me falling hard for UX Design.

Fabiola

I got interested in UX once I came to Australia and I started sharing with friends from the IT area, mostly developers. So, when one of my developer friends started to talk to me a lot about the fascinating UXD and the Design methodology I realised I had so many things in common with that world.

My previous experience in my country was in the Product Development area (but related to physical products) and I began to get more and more interested.

Finally, I took a course in GA, Melbourne and then I started to work as a UX/UI Designer with Startups.

In Chile, I studied Product Design Engineering, and the work I used to do in the Consumer Goods industry was mostly related to the Design implementation. But I always wanted to do something more User-related, more Research… so when I came here, and I discovered the UX design world in Melbourne it was awesome!

2. What have you been learning about UX this month?

Ellen

I just finished a Lynda class on User Experience Fundamentals for Web Design and I am also currently reading the book The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. I’m at the very beginning so right now I’m trying to get a grasp on how to think about design and the basics of web design and usability. I am also trying to surround myself with design thinking, so I followed a lot of people on Twitter and Medium, as well as signed up for UX newsletters.

Tara

I tend to focus my attention on whatever I don’t fully understand or need to find out more about as I am working on a project.

This month, I have been trying to wrap my mind around:

Fabiola

This month was about UX Research and how to implement it as fast & cheap as possible.

3. What have been your key UX takeaways?

Ellen

A lot of what I’ve been learning has been me saying “Yes, I totally agree!” or “That’s happened to me!”. As someone who (like a lot of people) often uses website and apps, it’s easy to relate to usability failures, and I can still remember getting frustrated enough to quit out of a site or delete an app without achieving whatever goal I was looking to achieve. So one of my key takeaways is that good design should be effortless to the user.

Another key takeaway that sort of relates is that good design is most important when things go wrong, because humans naturally make errors. This is from the Norman book and made me realize that an important part of design and a user’s experience is that they aren’t always going to make the best choice or do things perfectly, so how does what you’re making deal with mistakes?

Tara

1. Google Analytics is a huge tool – it’s going to take longer than you think to learn it.
2. It’s never too early or too late to do user research during a project.
3. Plan out the goals for IA tests before setting it up and have your participants already lined up.
4. Talk the business owner early about content don’t wait until just before getting ready to design the website.
5. Use tools like Writemaps and Jumpchart to help organize the content process.
6. Use a tool like Zeplin.io to facilitate the handoff of UI Designs to developers; it makes the process so much easier.
7. Make sure to involve developers early in the design process; it will prevent headaches later on.

Fabiola

About communicating the importance of user research to stakeholders and partners. That it is always good to do some research – even if is not fancy UX Research with labs and everything – it will still be better than nothing.

Also, how important it is to communicate about how expensive a project could be when you don’t do any research.

Categories: Mentoring

Chris Mears

Chris is co-founder of UXmentor.me. He has worked with clients such as the UK government, Just Eat & Which? with a focus on service design and transformation.