FionaAu - UX & UI Pathway

Throughout these few weeks I have learned a lot about UX Design in general, as well as many new skills, some of which are technical skills I never heard of, such as affinity mapping, brainstorming solutions and the process of evaluating those solutions, and the analysis of interview results. I was also introduced to wonderful tools such as Figma, Miro, and Asana, which I will definitely continue to use even after this internship is over. I even had the opportunity to enhance soft skills such as collaboration and decision making with teammates, which I found especially rewarding. In general, this experience is giving me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone, which I find very important.

One highlight from this experience was creating interview questions and analyzing those responses, during which I learned that questions must be carefully constructed in a way that gets the most useful information while removing bias. Another highlight has been creating a user flow based on the StemAway website, and using that to support certain issues we wish to solve. The third highlight was creating a low fidelity prototype, which was very gratifying, since this was the first somewhat tangible solution my team arrived at after so much hard work and dedication.

I have attended all group meetings except one, since that day I did not realize there was going to be a meeting. Besides those, my subgroup has been having our own meetings after each group meeting, as well as extra meetings if needed to complete assignments. The big group meetings I attended were:

June 1 Meeting 1

June 2 Meeting 2

June 5 Meeting 4

June 8 Meeting 5

June 9 Meeting 6

June 10 Meeting 7

June 15 Meeting 8

June 16 Meeting 9

The subgroup meetings I attended were on:

June 8

June 9

June 10

June 12

June 13

June 15

June 16

Some goals I have for the upcoming week are to get very accustomed to the newly introduced tools, to improve our prototype, and to further collaboration with my team.

Task 1: My team created interview questions together while on a video call, and afterwards, we asked our team leads to look over our questions for feedback. One of our team leads sent us a guide of Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to making interview questions, and we then adjusted our questions accordingly.

Task 2: Each individual interview note was turned into an insight, which was then used for affinity mapping. During this assignment, we ran into a little hiccup because of miscommunication, so my team already organized the insights a way in which we shouldn’t have done so yet. For the actual affinity mapping itself, a hurdle we faced during the process was grouping the insights into their own categories, since many of them were very similar, yet different in many ways. But overall, I am very happy with our final version.

Task 3: My team had multiple brainstorming sessions, during which we didn’t really have any hurdles. When it came time to evaluating the ideas, however, we needed to think about the best and most logical way to do dot voting. Then, when we were down to our final two ideas, we created a matrix chart to decide which solution out of the few that were really good was the best. This was challenging, but because of the guidance and education we have received from our team leads, it was very doable.

Task 4: We created a user flow chart for navigating the task bar. This was challenging because our solution encompasses a few things, so we needed to decide how we were going to structure our chart. But due to good teamwork and collaboration, we eventually decided it would be a good idea to have multiple branches of just a singular chart.

Task 5: We asked people to do card sorting of buttons accessible from the task bar, and then asked them to group the the cards in different ways. The only real hurdle from this task was figuring out the best way to interpret the results of the findings. Afterwards, we used that information to create the information architecture.

Task 6: We used Figma to create a low fidelity prototype of our solution, which wasn’t difficult, since we basically had it all planned out during the creation of the information architecture.

In just these few weeks, I went from barely understanding what UX is to getting a very good big picture of what UX design means. In addition, I even got to work on my time management (using Asana), teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be part of this and get a chance to redesign part of a real website.

First, I learned what UX is, as well as what it isn’t. This really helped, as I got a good understanding of common misconceptions, and why they are misconceptions in the first place. I learned that UX is so much more than just aesthetics, and that there is so much thought that goes into making a product. This particularly intrigued me, since I would have never expected so much thought to go into even the small details of something. In addition, all the user research we did and analysis of our data really showed me how designs are based on the users, and not simply done based on the designers’ whims. I felt that by learning more about UX and UX Research, I could also, in a sense, understand more about humans and how they respond to different things.

Once my team finally decided on our topic and completed our research, we, using Miro, created affinity maps and “How might we” statements, which we then used to brainstorm. This is also taught me a valuable aspect of UX Design: not all ideas sound “good” at the start. I learned that when brainstorming, it doesn’t matter if the ideas sound “dumb” or impossible at first. Since there are no bad ideas when beginning, there really isn’t a limit to what we can come up with at the end. After that, we learned to evaluate those solutions using dot voting and an impact-feasibility matrix. Using the matrix taught me about different factors designers must consider when crafting the solution.

Finally, when it came to creating the information architecture and prototyping, I learned the importance intuitiveness in a product. Further, I learned to use Figma to create low to high fidelity prototypes. At the end, we conducted usability testing. That’s when I saw the effect of our redesign, as uses were able to navigate that so much easier than they were able to navigate the original navigation bar on STEM-Away.

I came into this not knowing really what UX was, and gathered so many valuable skills such as interviews, surveys, brainstorming, evaluating solutions, and prototyping.