What I learned about UX in fall 2015

In autumn 2015 I took two courses, “User Experience – Level One” from the School of Visual Concepts, and “Content Creation: the Power of Storytelling” from the University of Washington. They were both very good. Both courses focused on a project, which we built week by week and then presented at the end. I’ll talk about the UX class first; a writeup of the content class will follow shortly.


The UX course was only 5 weeks long, but I felt it was a great introduction. The instructors, Max Eichbaum and Chad Driesbach, were highly recommended on the SVC website, and with good reason. They have great breadth of experience and a clear love of teaching and encouraging UX newbies. In the lectures, they covered the basics of research, design, prototyping, usability studies, presentation, and critique. The class was held at the SVC campus in downtown Seattle.

We worked together but separately on projects. Each of us was assigned to a group, and each group had a design problem. Mine was paying for street parking. My group shared resources, looked at each other’s prototypes, and did in-class exercises together. But we each did individual work and presented our work separately. It was a nice way to deal with the perennial problem of group projects: our work benefits from multiple perspectives on the problem, but it’s hard to coordinate out-of-class times to work together.

I enjoyed the research and design phases, which I expected to based on work I’ve done for a market research firm and design classes I took in college. As for prototyping, I learned that it’s a lot harder than I had realized. Perhaps it’s just like when a child learns to write, and they find out that some words are spelled with “ie” and others with “ei”, you forgot a comma, etc. — all the little details that trip you up when you’re new to something. My prototype for a mobile app allows you to reserve a parking spot in advance, but it feels pretty crude compared to some of the more polished prototypes that classmates made.

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