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Scenes from a UX Design class

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Wonder what a typical night in User Experience Design class is like? Check out these shots taken by AIGA student group co-president Paul Mendoza in one class meeting toward the end of the winter quarter.

Paul says, “Let’s see, what were we doing that day… we were going over last week’s usability testing results and paper prototypes, and preparing our in-class presentations of our personal projects. Fun surprise: one of the personal projects is for Weiss Cream, an ice cream vending website, and the owner of the ice cream business stopped by to serve some treats to class. It was the perfect day to take photographs. A very fun class.”

 Click here to view the photo gallery.

Click here to learn more about User Experience Design courses at UCLA Extension.

Introducing UX instructor Thomas Dillmann

Our UX team of instructors just keeps getting bigger, better, and more dynamic: We’re thrilled to welcome Thomas Dillmann, a user experience architect with fifteen years practical application in user experience and information architecture. Thomas will be teaching the introductory level User Experience Design course this winter. Here’s more about him:

What makes you passionate about user experience design?
It allows you to communicate that potential of new solutions and enables design and development teams to deliver a product that delights, helps and enables the end user.

What brought you to this field?
I entered the information architecture field by working at an early video search engine during the dot com days. I was very lucky to work with an amazing information scientist who taught me how to create an ontology for classifying video and inter-video search.  Still some the greatest video interface technology I have every encountered.  It was  a great time. The field of user experience barely existed, we were making it up as we went along. It is very validating to see how integral and deeply important thinking about and caring about the user has become to product development.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I was able to work on an early generation Android Mobile interface that provided a management interface for a wireless hospital bed. The proof of concept work allowed the wireless hospital bed to be brought to market benefiting patient wellness while in the hospital.

Why is your User Experience Design course important for my design education?
The course will equip you with the skills and tools to engage in the full life cycle for defining a software product. It will provide you with a learning matrix by which you can understand the User Experience discipline and provide you the structure off of which to hang skills as you develop your craft.

Enroll in User Experience Design today.

Introducing UX Online Instructor Alard Weisscher

We’re thrilled to welcome lauded user experience researcher and designer Alard Weisscher to the DCA team! Alard will be teaching User Experience Design (online) this fall. Get to know him and his course better:

What makes you passionate about design? What brought you to this field?

Computer technology is sheer magic to me. I believe that future people will look back at our present time as one with the most exciting technological advancements, a digital renaissance if you like. I feel privileged being part of and in a position to help shape that magic. I find the process of creating a relevant and pleasant digital experience by balancing user requirements with business goals and technical constraints extremely satisfying.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

While I was working at Vodafone, one of the largest mobile operators on our planet, I was part of a small but dedicated team that was dreaming of an open alternative for social networks. We were intrigued that social networks were walled gardens, and wondered why we could not use an approach similar to email that allows you to ‘share’ with anyone with a unique email address. In this project called OneSocialWeb, we created a working implementation to illustrate that it can be done technically whilst respecting performance, privacy and the browser and mobile experiences people are familiar with in the big social networks like Facebook and Google+. The point was not to develop a new social network but to trigger discussions on how social networks could eventually be opened up. It was simply amazing to work with state of the art technology and contribute, if only just a little bit, to the thinking of a social experience that touches the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Why is your course, User Experience Design (online), important for my design education?

Design today is a team sport that is becoming more and more popular. You will be playing alongside marketeers, strategists, customer care representatives, developers, other specialist designers and of course your users. It is essential to understand how the game is played and what tactics you have at your disposal to create winning experiences.

Do you have a sample assignment?

I treat my course as my own design assignment, using several techniques along the way to try and make sure the course fits my users (students) needs. I for instance use a Cultural Probe assignent in the first week, and ask my students to fill out a little booklet to explain about there expectations of the course. Eating your own dogfood is what they call this at startups, and no worries: it tastes great.

You are from the Netherlands. Will we earn extra credit if we support the Dutch football team?

We sure could use a little extra support. In the European Championships we did not even make it to the second round – quite a drop from being second in the World Cup of 2010. With a new coach lined up we are preparing for a comeback!

Interview on UX with Jeroen Hermkens

This interview between Karen Lauritsen and Jeroen Hermkens originally appeared on thewhiteboards.

Jeroen Hermkens is an award-winning Dutch interaction designer with 15 years of experience making technology transparent and easy to use for a wide variety of consumer, government, and business projects. He is the founder of Het is Simpel (It is Simple), which specifically focuses on interaction, communication, and concept design.

Jeroen has taught User Experience (UX) design online from Rotterdam for the Design Communication Arts Program since 2009. Wonder what kind of experience you’d have in the class? Recently, Jeroen put together a great page of student experiences and sample projects here from the spring 2011 quarter. Check it out!

I also asked him a few questions about the field via email:

When people ask you what you do, how do you explain it?
It can get confusing [very fast] for people if I try to explain them that, depending on the assignment, I do Interaction Design, UX Design, Information Architecture, Communication Design or Conceptual Design. I usually say, ‘I make technology easy to use’. This always sparks a conversation.

When you’re teaching UX Design, what do you consider the most critical principles that students come away with?
To trust their intuition and create an open mindset to WHY users are doing what they are doing. In the end the WHY is always something very basic.

What are companies looking for when they hire a UX Designer, both in terms of skills and portfolio?
Companies who do not understand UX are looking for nice graphics and flashy Flash presentations. Companies understanding UX look for thoughtful concepts and excellent execution.

What have students said they enjoy most about the course? What is the most difficult for them?
The main thing I am teaching is letting go of the judgements of how it should be or students think it should be. When students get this a complete new world opens up in which good UX design becomes much more easy. Students who are not able to make this step struggle a lot inside rather ‘normal’ projects.

What have you learned from teaching UX Design?
I have been involved in Interaction Design since ’94 so a lot of the theory I have discovered myself. It was very interesting to see a lot of formal documentation on topics I had figured out in my own way. Ever since, I enjoy following all kind of expert views.

Any student success stories that you know of, like someone being hired?
In my last course one of my students got his first UX Design job. He applied at a major healthcare company, had interviews, they liked the mindset he created in the course, [along with] his wireframes and the iPad2 app he designed within the course project. Over the last [few] years I have had emails from several students who got into the UX field as a result of the course.

Check out Het is Simple, Jeroen’s company.

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