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User Experience Research: Class Outline

Many students have asked what User Experience Research will cover, and how it differs from User Experience I. So, we’ve posted the class outline below. Led by Thomas Dillmann, it’s an important tool in your UX toolbelt.

User Experience Research

Thursdays, 7-10pm

6/26 – 9/4

Class Purpose:  This class will prepare you to conduct, analyze and moderate various usability testing techniques and social research methods so that you can assess the user experience of a product and understand the needs of your target audience. This class will teach a practical skill set with hands on training. The class is intended for user experience students who need to apply testing techniques in order to improve the product they are designing. The class will focus on those testing techniques that aid user experience.

Class Goal:  Testing provides actionable data. Testing is the bases for data driven decisions and removes the bias of an expert opinion or stakeholder opinions and refocus the product on the needs and feedback of the end user. Testing is at the corner of user experience, through testing we get close to the user needs and are able to hear from them directly so that we can improve the experience to meet their needs.

Class Approach:  Usability testing and marketing research is best learned through application. The class will provide short instruction and focus on the direct practice and application texting techniques. In particular it is important to know how to to use various testing techniques in conjunction to achieve a data supported conclusion. We will be using real world applications and website as testing candidates. We will be hearing from a series of guest speakers that are experts in each of the testing techniques.

Class Topics:  Techniques that will be discussed, practiced and applied include:

10 Usability Heuristics – Nielsen  How to Design Test Questions

How to gather a case accurate participant samples

How to recruit participants

How to reward participants

How to extract the answers you need without leading the participant

What is a statistically relevant sample

How to design a testable prototype – what do you real need for a valid test

How to write a testing report

How to draw conclusions from test results

How to make sure you do not pollute your test results

How to make sure you do not make incorrect inferences from your test results

How to assure your internal stakeholders support the test results  Testing Techniques: Focus Group Testing

How to set up Focus Group Testing  Focus Group Formats

Focus Group Moderation Techniques Card Sorting Test

Usability Testing of Prototypes (In Person and Remote)

How to design Quantitive Surveys (When & How to Use them)

Ethnographic Research (Day in the Life) Social Media Mining  A/B Testing – Types, How To, When to use, When not to Use MVP – Testing your way to a finish product – Iterate  Individual

Class Structure:

Each class will review two –  three topics and then apply those topics to a case study in class. The students will then apply the same techniques to a personal project for their weekly assignment.  Requirement: Students should have completed UX I.  Each student will need to have a personal user experience project pre-built that can be tested and modified in class. A exit portfolio project from UX I would be sufficient or they can ask a UX II student if they can use their project for testing purposes.  Readings: Each class will have a set of internet articles to read. Companion books will be suggested but not required for reading.  For example: Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users by JAKOB NIELSEN on March 19, 2000 Class Capstone Project:  The class will conclude with a formal in person prototype testing scenario of at least three participants conducted by the students. The student will be responsible for recruiting, conducting, recording, and writing the testing report from the test. The student will present their findings and excerpt of the recording

UCLA Extension Class in Rangefinder Magazine

Jim Cornfield recently spent some time visiting Richard Langendorf’s Shooting Like the Masters: A History of Photography, then wrote about the class and its students for Rangefinder magazine. It’s a great article that showcases a lot of wonderful student work (from some very challenging projects).

Kudos to Richard and all of the students for their hard work and beautiful results! It’s a unique class offering, so we’re glad to see it get recognition in print.

Check out the article here: RF_Masters_Feb 2013 copy

The Strange World of Eric Gill


Are you a fan of the font Gill Sans? How much do you know about the artist behind it? 

Controversial British artist Eric Gill has a number of engravings, typography and writings housed at the Laband Art Gallery. Offered in partnership with Loyola Marymount University, the class The Sensual and the Spiritual: Eric Gill’s Life and Work presents a lecture on the artist’s unusual lifestyle and personality, followed by a tour where students can view his work firsthand.

The class is led by Carolyn Peter, director and curator of the gallery. It’s a great chance to get the inside scoop on this unusual and influential artist.


(images: Eric Gill, “Thou Hast Made Me,” from The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, 1938, The Albert Spierson Collection, University of San Francisco. Eric Gill, “The Lord’s Song,” from The Lord’s Song, 1934, he Albert Spierson Collection, University of San Francisco).


Student Work: Pauline Batista

You may not know that in addition to our regular courses, we also offer a mentorship option, for students who have a specific project in mind and would like one-on-one time with an instructor to get individualized guidance and feedback. Students can pick an instructor they have studied with before, or whose work they admire. They spend six hours with their mentor over the course of the quarter.

Recently, photography student Pauline Batista completed a mentorship with instructor Roxann Arwen Mills. Pauline was kind enough to share some of her work and thoughts on the mentorship process.

Why did you decide to do this mentorship?

It was crucial to me to have someone’s input on my work that I could trust. The only way in my mind to do so was to find someone whose work I respected and who I thought would be able to understand where I was coming from.

I believe I was at a point in my work where I needed guidance that went beyond just another class.

The one-on-one time framework of a mentorship was exactly what I was looking for and needed. I have taken many UCLA Extension classes but each has their own assignments and parameters that weren’t always in tune with the kind of work I was looking to produce.  The great feature of the mentorship class is that it allows you to pick a mentor and work with him/her to develop your project and yourself as a photographer.

Can you describe your project and what your goals for the mentorship were?

 I began working on the series “Stumbling towards Oblivion” last year with a desire to leave the concrete jungle and explore our relationship to the natural environment.

I wanted to place my subjects as objects within a landscape but not to objectify them.

Personally the biggest challenges and rewards surrounding the project were the actual shoots. Although clearly staged scenarios, it was important to me to convey the excitements and fears surrounding such a explorations. Being out there for the shoots elicit many (opposing) feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, but also a strange feeling of peace and serenity.

I aimed to create a dream state removed from social expectations, and my goal with the mentorship was to translate that into photographs.

How did you and Roxann approach your work? What was she able to offer you in terms of guidance and critique?

As I mentioned I had already begun the work and therefore had my own ideas of what the project was and what I wanted it to convey to others.

In a way I was already determined to follow a certain path and aesthetics, which I believed, would communicate that.

Roxann being a well-rounded artist, who has also worked extensively with the human body was able to help me step back and analyze the work through a different lens. She questioned (and in turn made me question) the decisions I was making and the work I was choosing during the editing process. She offered me honest critique and was not hesitant to say when something did not work.

I think this is the best quality in a mentor.  After all you are not trying to get someone who simply agrees with everything you produce and say but rather can bring constructive criticism that may steer the work in an unexpected direction.

 How did your project change based on your work with Roxann?

It is very easy to get stuck within your own vision or ideas. Roxann enabled me to step back and be more critical of the work and from there evolve it. I began experimenting with different times of day and including dawn as opposed to just nighttime and also experimented more with lighting. The guidance with editing was tremendous.

The biggest contribution I would say came in terms of identifying where it was that the work could fit within the history of nude photography but also having something new to say about it. She encouraged me to study the history of it and what has been done in this field.

I can say with certainty that this mentorship has in more ways than one shaped the final body of work.




Rachel Langosch on the TedX Website!

Rachel Langosch’s TedXUCLA talk “Smiles Behind the Camera” is being featured on the main TedX site. She tells the story of teaching photography to kids, many of whom were picking up the camera for the first time, and the inspirational work they created in her class.

Congrats to Rachel on a great talk. We’ll look forward to hearing more like hers during the next TedXUCLA coming up in October.


The UCLA Extension Certificate Graduation Ceremony was Friday from 4 – 6:30pm at Royce Hall. This was a great moment to recognize all of the hard work our certificate students have done and celebrate their accomplishments. It’s also a nice chance for certificate students across many disciplines to celebrate together. Visit our main UCLA Extension website for details on the event.

Flickr stream:

[fsg_gallery id=”2″]

Livestream of the packed Royce Hall event:


Masood Kamandy’s Cronophotography

New instructor Masood Kamandy (he’s teaching Introduction to Digital Photography this summer) is working on a fascinating photography project. The images below are part of his Collapse series. They explore photography’s ability to collapse time and space. Utilizing software he designed himself to combine multiple images, he embraces chance and chaos, creating images which are unmanipulated composites, layered and mixed to arrive at a completed work.

You can see more of the project at Of course, he also made the program open source, so others can play to! From the website

“Collapsus is an open source program created for the exploration of chronophotography and image stacking in digital photography.

The program works by taking all photographs in a selected folder and using various algorithms of your choice to combine into a single image.

With this software you can compress time and reveal movement. You can average images. You can explore abstraction and chance operations. You can also export sequences to create animations.”

I asked Masood about his inspiration for this project, and he said:

“I’ve been interested in the web and open-source as a way of communicating with other artists and creatives for a long time, and teaching is also a big part of my practice as an artist. When I created the Collapsus computer program, I made it with the idea that it would be a teaching tool for digital photography. It is a really great way of understanding what exactly is happening when we modify an image in Photoshop, which essentially just executes mathematics on the pixels of an image to give a specific result.”

Good stuff.

Instructor Interview: Sophia Allison

We knew artist Sophia Allison would be a great fit for our students when she showed us the lucha libre costumes she had sewn from a variety of household and commercial products. She’ll bring that creativity, enthusiasm and unique vision to her class Experiments in Drawing this summer.

We talked to Sophia about her influences, her work, and her advice for the would-be artists out there.

01_SAllison_Blue Ridge III (front view)

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

For the past few years, I have been creating work that has to do with the physical and emotional landscape in which I was raised-specifically, the western North Carolina area. I work in a variety of media including sewing, paper-cut installations, cardboard/recycled materials and collage. Much of the work has many small components that make up a larger whole-one could say that there’s a bit of an ocd quality in all of my projects.

One of my on-going preoccupations has been a series of sewn landscape vignettes that reference specific locations on and around my family’s property in Western NC. Placing a printed digital image on fabric, I repetitively sew through the paper, forcing it into the fibers of the fabric, destroying the paper and recreating the image with thread on the opposite side of the material. The effect is two-fold: on one side, the landscape is clearly articulated; on the other, the paper image is obliterated leaving loose threads and uneven textures. The image is simultaneously destroyed and built up; it is recognized as a snapshot of a specific location and at the same time, it becomes fragmented and abstracted like a fading memory. These works are displayed so that both the front and back sides are visible.

Additionally, I have been creating a series of sculptures that are inspired by the Blue Ridge mountains. I cut up several hundred pieces of cardboard into rough, small rectangles and glue these together using foam core as a base between each section. The overall effect is an abstracted shape with undulating ridges like a mountain. I leave the cardboard unpainted; the variations in tone and color of the cardboard elevate the material beyond its humble, fragile quality. The works appear to be quite heavy and voluminous when in fact they are hollow and light-weight.

Untitled (Redgates skyview) back

Who are some artists that you admire and how have they influenced your work?

I am drawn to artists that can work fluidly across a variety of media but turn the traditional on its head, like within the work of Pae White or Tim Hawkinson; I am always amazed at how Tim can take almost anything-plastic bags, cardboard, old tubes (to name a few items) and create incredibly elaborate, conceptual works that transcend the sum of their parts. As a bonus, his work is a big draw to people who don’t necessarily like art-I love that! I am a big fan of materials and am attracted to artists’ works that are visually stunning but then have a lot of layers to dig through-work that continues to reveal itself; these works act as a one-two punch–first to your eyes and then to your brain. An artist I recently became familiar with- Elizabeth Higgins O’Connor- uses materials like old sheets, blankets, scrap wood, thread and cut-up furniture to create large assemblage sculptures of strange animal-doll hybrids. I am also influenced by artists who use craft-aesthetics within their works such as Mark Newport. His embroidered comic book covers are beautiful as are his knit super hero costumes.

When teaching art, do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?

Oh, definitely! Continuing education is wonderful because, in my experience, most folks are coming to class with a very open perspective on things as well as a bit of maturity-in other words, they know themselves well and are ready to try anything and be receptive to new ideas and art experiences. Often times, some of these folks have not had much formal training in art-making or they are getting back into it after taking a break from it – which makes the class (and teaching it) all the more exciting. I’ve found that some of my best students came to my class as “non-art” people or not art majors; they turned out to be the ones that were most adventurous with class projects and had fresh ideas. Undergrad is usually a time for a person to start finding their academic footing and interests in what they want to do professionally-try a bit of everything and see what is appealing. Also, the typical undergrad is usually younger so they don’t necessarily have the same world experiences that many continuing education students have. In graduate school, students are honing in on a specific focus/thesis, so there’s not as much time for experimentation.

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

I hope students will come away with an enthusiasm for drawing (and art-making in general) and a willingness to be open to new ways of thinking about art and creating work. Drawing has taken on a new life in the past few decades with more non-traditional media and concepts being explored and utilized but many underlying foundation principles still apply. Also, I hope students will learn to trust themselves in their art-making decisions and take chances that they may not have otherwise. Hopefully they’ll see that it’s perfectly OK to take a risk and fail, as long as they learned something from it and can apply this new information to their next art-making experience. One of my teaching goals is to provide students with technical and conceptual tools that they can have at-the-ready—to broaden their “art-toolbox” so they have more choices and approaches to utilize as they create work.



What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing art as a serious hobby or profession?

Make art, make art and then make some more. I think there’s this false notion that in order to do art, one needs to be “gifted” or have a knack for it. What it takes is A LOT of hard work, time and a real love and true dedication to it. If you don’t like and enjoy what you are doing, how will others? There are many ways to pursue art as a profession, but it does require lots of time in the studio-time spent creating and thinking about the work one is making. It’s important too to have people see and talk to you about what you’re doing and not be too isolated in one’s studio practice; as an artist, it’s easy to work in a bubble and forget the world, but having people take a look at your work is a necessity.

Also, I think it’s very important to look at art in the flesh. Looking at images on-line and in books is great, but they aren’t substitutes for seeing art in person. It’s an entirely different experience to spend time with a work of art right in front of your nose and immerse yourself in it, trying to understand it and what the artist was doing/thinking when he made the piece. With a great work of art, this can be an almost spiritual experience!


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