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Interview with Instructor Chris Becker

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Chris Becker will be teaching Design Thinking II this upcoming Summer 2015 quarter. He’ll bring creativity, insight, and develop unique visions with all who join him in this exciting class.

We talked to Chris about his work, his class and his advice for the would-be UX Designers and beyond.

chris becker

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

As a UX Designer / Interaction Designer / Design Researcher / Educator, my practice has been focusing on the interplay between systems (websites, app platforms, software & learning systems) and design / design education. I have been using the design thinking process as a foundation for which all of my work stems. By leaning on the process I have been able to show my clients and my class rooms that design is not only fun but has ability to be innovative and necessary.

I am currently working with early stage startup: a neuroscience based brain mentoring platform called mymntr.com out of San Francisco and have started on a responsive website redesign of a major university in Colorado.

Can you describe your Design Thinking II class that you will be teaching in Summer?

Design Thinking II will take a deeper dive into the design thinking process. We will be exploring and improving our design thinking methodology through 3 distinct design thinking cycles. 1 short cylce, 1 medium cycle, and one long cycle. Since design thinking is a way of approaching problem solving, this course will engage your critical making, out of the box thinking, creativity, and prototyping skills. All along the way we will be improving our ability to develop insights and forage through an iterative innovation cycle with a goal of producing clear and unique solutions at varying levels of finish from sketching to working prototypes.

The DTII course is built on a workshop based interaction which will require highly collaborative discussions, in class testing of ideas, and lively brainstorming / insight gathering & problem definitions. Students will leave with an nuanced knowledge of the design thinking process and 12 weeks of practice and documentation of using the methodology for solving design problems.

Design-is-a-process

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

Design Thinking 2 students will walk away with a growing confidence in using the design thinking methodology as well as 3 projects that illustrate their usefulness and problem solving abilities. Furthermore they will grow their ability to articulate and document the design thinking process and show how they move from insight gathering through problem solving prototyping.

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing User Experience Design or a related Design field as a profession?

Some advice.
Try not to be defined by deliverables like wireframes or sitemaps. The “oh you make wireframes syndrome” diminishes the vast umbrella of impact a User Experience Designer can think about inside any company or system.

Concentrate on and show how human centered design methodologies can improve business and the impact of experience on your users.

User Experience is a relatively new and growing field of practice and it needs to be internalized by industry from a foundational perspective so be part of showing how and why it matters. Then go out and make awesome stuff.

Enroll in his Summer class Here

Instructor Spotlight: Richard Barkinskiy

hamstervalhallaWe’re thrilled to welcome HTML5 instructor Richard Barkinskiy! An outstanding graduate of our very own Advanced Web & Interaction Design program, Richard is a digital application specialist for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He specializes in WordPress website development with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, and MySQL.

Richard fields our “big four” questions here:

What brought you to this field?

Web development is in constant flux, always keeping me challenged. It requires patience, planning and determination to execute every web site. Although at times it can be frustrating, it’s never boring.

Today websites are more than just online brochures. They contain videos, interactive images, games and everything in-between. If there was ever a profession for a curious mind, I can’t think of a better one than website development.

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

Working for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has given me many opportunities to further strengthen my web development skills. One such opportunity was creating the Discoveries Magazine website in 2012.

The Discoveries Magazine publication chronicles the latest research conducted at Cedars-Sinai with moving photography, stylistic typography and engaging stories that help bring to life the work undertaken at the medical center. I was tasked to bring the same level of professional and innovation to the web.

I sought to build a website that not only took advantage of HTML5 semantics, but employed responsive website design techniques. At the time, responsive website design was just a concept being discussed by the web community, not as the de facto approach to website development it is today.

Taking a calculated risk, I presented the responsive website design idea to various stakeholders and was entrusted to create a website unlike anything they had ever seen before.

Having no prior experience building a responsive website, I did my best to soak in as much information regarding the technique. With the deadline looming, I tackled the project and launched the website about two months after its conception. The website was one of the first built with responsive website design for Cedars-Sinai and most recently earned a 2013 Eddie award for an online publication.

Why is your course, HTML5, important for my design education?www.zugotruck.com

Understanding key fundamentals of modern website design is paramount in constructing the next generation of websites. The web today is accessible on multitude of devices—from laptops and tablets to smartphones and gaming consoles. It’s now, more than ever, imperative in understanding how to code with accuracy and employ modern best practice techniques effectively in order to engage online visitors on any device that connects to the web.

Do you have sample work?

www.runforher.com

Utilizing HTML5 and CSS3, I constructed responsive landing page for the Run for Her event. The Run for Her event supports ovarian cancer research and awareness and this year has grown to include events in the Bay Area and New York in addition to Los Angeles. The homepage needed to consist of links to the various events, a feed to the event’s photo gallery and video—all while remaining responsive.

www.discoveriesmagazine.org

Incorporating “Art Directed” techniques in bringing the printed publication to the web, I have helped transform stories from print to an engaging online presence utilizing HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery.

www.pink-party.orgwww.zugotruck.com

Building the Zugo Liquitarian website was a fun project where I got to tap into my creative side and build a website for the best juice truck in Los Angeles. I utilized jQuery to help deliver Instagram’s API onto the homepage.

Additional websites: www.pink-party.org, www.hamstervalhalla.com, www.nvenv.com

Welcome, Richard!

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:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuristic_evaluation

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

AIGA UCLAx event photos: UX for Dummies

Check out a few photos from your  AIGA UCLAx student group’s most recent event: UX for Dummies: An Interactive Panel for Total N00bs

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Panelists (from l-r) Jose Caballer, Chris Chandler, and Lynn Boyden

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(l-r) Lara Fedoroff, Paul Mendoza, Lynn Boyden, Chris Chandler, Jose Caballer, Adam Weidenbaum

 

For more images, please visit your student group’s facebook album and be sure to “like” it in facebook to keep up to date with future events.

Scenes from a UX Design class

ux photo

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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