Work and Feedback Students Spring 2011

User Experience Design for the Web

Instructor: Jeroen Hermkens

This course is about actively engaging into the field of User Experience Design for 12 weeks. The first 4 weeks of the course students explore UX theory and develop a project idea. The rest of the weeks are spend on developing their UX project.

"First off, this course should be renamed "UX Design Intensive". It is not one of those laid back online courses that you can easily work your way through. No passive learning in this one either! From the very beginning you are thrown in the midst of action working through the UX design concepts and applying them to your chosen project. Students should be warned that they are going to have an intense twelve weeks ahead. It is a rough roller coaster ride that will push you to your limits, if you manage to stay on track you will be rewarded with a whole lot of learning."

Week 1 starts with the exploration of the user experience from both the users perspective and the 'thing being dealth with'.

Week 1 by Melinda McGrady

"Excellent class, I wish I had taken it at the beginning of my certificate program as it has given me a better work ethic for all of my projects moving forward."

Week 1 by Candace McCracken

Every week there are readings and practical exercises. Week 2 and 3 are about the theory behind UX design and reviewing sites accordingly. Students keep creating their project ideas.

"For the first time, I have learned a work methodology that made me forget about Photoshop (What is it?) during most of the development. I want everything to be developed by following a logical order. It might be awkward sometimes, but following all the phases we learned in the course, step by step, increases the quality of the project and decreases the deadline of the developer. I realize it is simpler than it looks."

Week 2 by Bryan Fishman

Week 3 is more theory but also a (kind of secret) information design exercise.

During week 4 the students chose their final project and they have to create their UX objective. The UX objective is the key of their project since it defines the experience the end user should have when the project is finished. The UX objective consists of a visualization and a motto characterising the experience.

"Key learning in this course are user objectives, user scenarios, personas and interview skills. I learn about those concept from the text a while ago, but I have never practice them. This course gives me opportunities to put those concepts in actions."

"I think my key ”learning” in this course has been a re-appreciation and understanding of the UX process. I’m very familiar with some of the concepts we covered, but had slipped into a pattern of not fully embracing them, and completely marginalizing the ones I wasn’t familiar with. I now fully agree that UX is not part of the process – it IS the process."

Week 4 by Carmen Escutia

Week 4 by Ed Belenky

Week 4 by Minakshi Saini

Week 4 by Bryan Carichner

In week 5 the students interview 'real' people about the requirements for their project.

"Actually I found the process (of user testing/interviews) to be surprisingly engaging and extremely effective - and ESSENTIAL to where I was able to take my app idea and designs."

"I can't imagine designing another site without taking the time for some user interviews!"

"A major challenge I faced was leaving my ego at the door during user testing and interviews. There were more than a few occasions where I wanted to lead the interviewee to the answer on how to solve a problem since I felt it to be a simple solution. By listening however and not letting my knowledge of the app interfere with their experience, I received some of the most valuable feedback as result."

Based on the UX objective and the interviews students describe in week 6 at least two key users as personas. For each persona an use case scenario will be written.

"To my surprise, personas are very easy to write. It turns out very easy to do, and fun."

"I thought developing personas was going to be a daunting task, however, it proved to be relatively painless and gave me some good information in the end."

"Creating the personas helped me to keep the importance of users' experience top of mind throughout the development process."

Week 6 by Heather Cuccaro

Week 6 by Bryan Carichner

Week 7 starts with sketching wireframes with an old school pencil.

"Wireframing truly is the soul behind a website or application."

Week 7&8 by Bryan Fishman

In week 8 it is the end of Lorem Ipsum and 'real' wireframes are being produced.

"I found the number of iterations required to make a product very surprising. The number of good ideas at the time that need to be discarded before settling on something that works is pretty mind boggling."

"I can’t think of anything about this class that was “quite simple,” but I did find that using the Keynotopia templates wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be."

Week 8 by Ena de Guzman

Week 9 brings another round of interviews where the students test their wireframes and their scenarios.

"I wanted my app to be simple with a minimum amount of screens, to be clear and easy to use with minimal explanation. This was more difficult than I anticipated. I solved it by listening to and observing my interviewees during testing."

Week 10 & 11 is where the graphical magic happens. Since this course is not about graphical design students are challenged to combine their UX insights with their level of graphical literacy.

"Another challenge and key learning was to not jump ahead mentally and instead, to allow the process to unfold naturally. I have a habit, whether I’m editing video or developing a website, to sometimes jump into the “fun” part (video transitions, design, etc.) without performing the proper due diligence. Almost every time this has ended up coming back to haunt me, and the pace of this course forced me to be patient, and take it step-by-step (even though at times I wanted to jump ahead). As a result, I truly feel my application is much better than it would have been had I skipped some of the steps outlined in the course."

"You cannot design an user experience, you can only design for an user experience. It is something I would need to keep in mind as I design."

"Because of this class, and what little I knew about User Experience, my quality of work will be exponentially improved."

"Probably the most helpful piece of advice you gave me was when you told me not to spend more than an hour on revising a design. It forced me to not agonize over what I was not good at, and focus on the top level objective of the product."

The course concludes with establishing a portfolio of the work produced and a description of the students learnings. All quotes on this page are from Week 12 student learnings and evaluations.

"There is a before and after the UX Design course."

"It was fascinating to pull everything together in the end and create the final portfolio. I can now see how each step was leading us to the end result. It was fun to build on the knowledge from the prior weeks as we headed to our final designs."

"With the proliferation of mobile devices and tablets, there is a whole new world I need to consider, and I feel more confident now working in that arena than I did 12 weeks ago."

"A few weeks into this course completely changed the way that I viewed things around me. Now when I see anything around me I look at it in the light of User Experience."

Week 10&11 by Minakshi Saini

Week 10&11 by Alan Natale

Week 10&11 by Ed Belenky

About Jeroen Hermkens

Jeroen is an innovative, analytical, creative, persistent designer/entrepreneur with a special interest in new technology and its usability and impact on society. His personal vision is to help people carve out a life they love supported by transparent, easy-to-use technology. Jeroen teaches UX design remotely at UCLAx since 2009. He lives and works in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Jeroen ownes and operates Het is Simpel – or, in English, It is Simple – an international source for practical concept design, interaction design and communications advice since 2003. Recently they launched their first iPad App called PicStroom - which allows you to easily find, follow and share inspirational visuals.