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Interview with User Experience Graduate EunMi Kim

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate.

As a graphic designer, I have always been interested in technology and interface design. One day, my marketing manager asked me to redesign the company website and mobile app layouts. For this project, my final design did not come out the way that would be the best for the consumers because I focused too much on designing visual elements rather than functions of the website.

After reading about the UX design certificate of UCLA Extension, I know that it would help me find answers to why my previous design was not suitable for the consumer experience. (And it did!) The curriculum explained well what I would study from each UX course, and I was very excited to learn from professional instructors with many experiences.

What was your favorite course, and why?

My favorite course was UX II: Iteration. In UX II, I had the chance to build practical experiences of how UX actually solves problems from the user’s perspective. At the beginning of this course, it was very challenging to figure out how to approach the solutions, but I was able to find the answers by working together with other students as a group.

How are you using your certificate experience in your current professional life?

As a professional graphic designer, now I care more about the user’s needs from the products and services that I create as much as visual aspects of my design.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in getting started in UX?

The core of UX design is not a matter of style, but how it works, and it’s something we can always improve more. If you are often annoyed by things that were not designed in the best way they could be, this UX course might be right for you.

Interview with DCA graduate Novia Elvina

Congrats to recent DCA graduate Novia Elvina, who’s next step is the Master’s program in Human Experience Design Interactions at Cal State Long Beach.

Check out her design portfolio here and her UX portfolio here.

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I always had a passion for art when I was a little girl. My interest started from gaming, drawing, and creating my own book illustration/comic books when I was 8 years old. To be honest, I never pursued art as my passion because where I came from, those fields are not really encouraged by family or even the community.

Then, I flew to the US to start college. I realized in this land of opportunity, I could achieve my dreams and passion to do what I love as my professional career. Thus, I pursued Animation/Entertainment Art for my Bachelor degree at CSUF. After graduating, I worked with several companies as a Graphic Designer and a Graphic Artist. I really enjoyed my job, and I got to draw for 8 hours or more every single day. However, I realized that I’m nothing more than an asset of a big wall-art company, and a role like mine, is easy to be replaceable, as they weren’t supportive enough to sponsor my working visa in the US.

Long story short, I realized I needed some sort of certification at least before going back to my home country, since Animation is not really a successful career over there. That’s when I decided to go to UCLA Extension for DCA Certification because I never really had proper graphic design courses during my Undergrad years.

What were your favorite courses and why?

There were quite a lot of favorite courses at UCLA Extension. To be honest, I grasped more skills here than during my Undergrad years, but again, I’m not trying to compare or regret every choice I made because that’s what made me who I am today. I really enjoyed Entertainment Design with Jeff Aguila because not only did he show us demo and new skills that we should know for entertainment industry, but he also pushed us as students to think more or think outside the box. What I’m aiming is not to be the most skillful person in Photoshop/Illustrator/other softwares, but what I want to learn from him is how he thinks and sees a problem to solve it in a professional and creative manner.

I also gained new skills from motion graphic classes that were taught by David Dodds. His passion for motion graphics and character animation really inspires students. Not to mention After Effects is one of the most challenging animation software to learn, but he’s really full of patience (and passion) covering the materials over and over again.

Then, I also took UX I course with Chris Cirak, and even though I never met him in person, I remembered how helpful he is as an UX Instructor. It was my first time taking a UX course and I didn’t even know what UX meant back then, and look where I am now! I’m pursuing a Master’s in Human Experience Design Interaction which is similar to UX. Then I met Thomas Dillman, another UX Instructor whom I adore so much because of his experience and how he shares his knowledge in the UX industry. Again, my aim is not to learn the powerful UX tools in the career because softwares are always changing, and I believe as long as we have the right mind to learn and grasp on something, we shouldn’t be worried of anything.

How did you decide to go from UCLA Extension to graduate school?

I decided to go to Graduate school for UX because I like to learn what’s beyond UX. I mean, I learned UX from UCLA Extension, and that will always be my starting point when I share my stories to everyone. Then, understanding concepts around Human Relationship with Technology and Arts, it just gives me chills and passion to explore more, and to apply all the skill that I have learned as a designer.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I hope in 5 years, I’ll be working in an Entertainment company where my works will have a huge impact for the company, the audience, and the community. Then I’d also be willing to hustle when I still can, I don’t mind taking some freelance jobs as a Graphic Artist: creating movie posters/flyers, etc. because that’s what started my passion as an artist as well.

Congratulations, Novia! Wishing you every success!

Interview with User Experience Graduate Leo Peng

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate.

I was interested in UX design after listening to a lecture in a digital media class in college and after I created digital designs for an internship. I chose UCLA Extension’s UX Certificate program after reading about the positive experiences students had with the program and the job placement stories. What appealed to me was the opportunity to learn from industry professionals over the span of a year, to develop professional relationships, and to choose from a curated curriculum that’s constantly adapting to the needs of the industry.

What was your favorite course, and which was most helpful to your professional development?

My favorite course was User Experience IV: Capstone because the instructor and the class environment made me excited about the industry and reignited the fun I had in looking at the user experience of technology giants through a critical lens. The most helpful course was User Experience II: Iteration because it taught me not only the principles needed to get a job, but the in-depth knowledge of various tools I still use at my job every day.

How are you using your certificate experience in your current professional life?

The most important skill I took away from the certificate was working in a team environment with other designers. I was not able to experience this in my Bachelor’s program… And I work with other designers every day!

What advice would you have for anyone interested in getting started in UX?

If you’re interested in transitioning your career, think about whether or not you’re passionate about technology and design. In UX, you are constantly juggling your desire to be innovative in both of those.

Distinguished Instructor Series: 2020’s Biggest Tech Takeaways from the Perspective of UX with Diana Barraza

We’ll present the final talk in our series on Tuesday, August 18 at 12pm.

Room to Grow: 2020’s Biggest Tech Takeaways from the Perspective of UX

2020 has shown us that the tech world has much to think about. Join Diana Barraza, UCLA Extension Instructor and Head of User Experience at Mesh Communities as they walk through some of the challenges tech must react to during these unprecedented times. From accountability of social platforms to truly protect their most marginalized users to how junior designers can best weather the storm, Diana will present a blueprint for a better tech outlook.

Diana Barraza is a UX and visual designer with over 10 years of experience in technology. Specializing in mobile and enterprise design, Diana currently ideates how to best connect likeminded people as Head of User Experience at Mesh Communities. Previously with Heal–an in-home, doctor on-demand provider–Diana’s work contributed to Heal being named App of the Day in the App Store. With an academic background rooted in the social sciences and arts, Diana is eager to share her knowledge and experiences as an educator at UCLA Extension. Diana is also proudly Latinx and an LA native.

Join our free Distinguished Instructor lecture series this summer!

Join us over lunch for a series of live talks and presentations in the core academic areas of the Visual Arts. Each week we feature a distinguished instructor and dive into their area of expertise. Areas of focus for this series include Photography, Art History, User Experience (UX), Design, Studio Arts, and VR. Sessions begin at 12pm, last between 60-90 minutes, and are free and interactive. Bring your ideas and questions. Enroll for free today!

  • Tues., July 14   Craig Havens (Photography)
  • Tues., July 21   Dahn Hiuni (Art History)
  • Tues., July 28   Pash (DCA)
  • Tues., Aug. 4    Mayee Futterman (Studio)
  • Tues., Aug. 11  John Selig (Unity/VR)
  • Tues., Aug. 18  Diana Barraza (UX)
UCLA Extension Summer Cover by Matt at Varnish Studios

Interview with UX Graduate Nathdanai Somprasong

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate. 

I am always interested in design, especially digital product design. However, I found that creative work is usually subjective, meaning that it always partly depends on each person’s experience and perspective and it is not easy to achieve the best design solution.

After reading about the UX design certificate of UCLA Extension, I know right away that this is what I was looking for and I wanted to learn in more detail to develop and enhance my design capability. I gained not only visual problem-solving skills but also research and analytical skills to validate my work.

What’s something about UX design that beginning students might not realize? 

I notice that most people usually focus on qualitative data such as user interviews or user testing and overlook the importance of quantitative data. Both types of data could complement each other and lead to a more preferable design solution.

Knowing the limitation of the technology is also important. It is very beneficial to know some basic coding skills to know what is feasible and to be able to communicate with the web development team.

What was your favorite course and why? 

I enjoyed studying many courses here, however, User Experience II: Iteration is my favorite course. I had a chance to learn about service design which is challenging and enjoyable. I learned to look beyond the computer or mobile screens and was able to pay more attention to the end-to-end experience for a business.

Students also had a chance to work together as a team which was a valuable experience because people from different countries and different backgrounds can exchange views and experience with each other. 

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream job, who are they, and what’s the job?

A company that provides digital product design service such as an application or website design which focuses mainly on creating the best experience for their users both visually and usability and work closely with the clients and their users for the best design outcomes.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years? 

My goal in 5 years is to be a well known senior UX designer in an agency or a tech company. I also have a strong passion for teaching, so I also would like to teach design or other subjects as much as I can and hopefully have my own academic institution one day.

User Experience and Photography Advising Sessions Available

Interested in learning more about the User Experience or Photography Certificates? Or, are you a current student who would like to discuss your progress and next quarter’s classes?

Schedule an appointment with Cristina, your student advisor.

Wednesday, March 13, 1-4pm

1010 Westwood Center, Room 213

Individual appointment times are available by calling 310-206-1422.

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Course spotlight: User Experience IV: Capstone

“It is a great class to integrate all the knowledge I’ve learned in past UX classes, from research, pattern library, to testing.”

“Anybody can learn design tools, but design thinking is what makes a UX designer stand out. This course combines design thinking and actual design perfectly.”
— current UX IV students

Capstone courses are pivotal in pulling students’ knowledge together, giving them “real world” practice, and preparing them for the workplace. Instructor Thomas Dillmann tells us more about the culmination of our User Experience certificate, User Experience IV: Capstone.

Why is this course important for my UX education?

UX 4 allows the student to apply their learned UX skills from their UX certificate course work in a self directed manner. The UX 4 class is modeled after real business cases to which the student provides UX strategy and business solutions using the full set of learned UX skills and techniques. UX 4 provides a platform for the UX student to own their new UX Skills and really prove what they know. UX 4 raises your confidence and readies for entry into the professional arena.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

Thomas Dillmann

The UX 4 courses uses Harvard Business Review case studies as the core material for the students to produce a complete end to end UX solution to the presented case issue.  For example, a HBR case may focus on how should newspaper and media companies charge for their products in a near free media environment with falling ad revenue? Should they implement paywalls or donation models or other solutions? And how would a UX designer integrate these solutions across their respective digital platforms? Students are challenged to provide supporting research and UX deliverables to solve the case. These could include business models, service design models, concept maps, user interface and interactive prototypes as well as user research and testing.

What will I take away from this course?

The UX 4 course produces complete case study documentation that are essential for UX portfolios.  UX 4 serves as a capstone course to prove what you have learned and for you to solidify your own personal UX approach and process which is key to being hired as a UX designer.

Enroll in User Experience IV: Capstone today!

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