Hey there, design reader!
Welcome to week 11 (actually, more like week 12) of my UX Academy Journey—the halfway point! Huzzah! If you’re a fellow UXA student in the Weingart cohort, go ahead and give yourself a high-five. It’s been a long road and you deserve it! And if you’re in another cohort, or just an enthusiastic follower of these posts, also give yourself a high five for being awesome and supporting this journey with your readership. Thank you!
After three months of rigorous study, we students are given the chance to take a break week—and break I, for one, most certainly shall—before progressing to Phase 2 of the course and embarking on three back-to-back capstone projects.
In fact, I’m writing this from a plane 10,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, somewhere midway between Seattle and Hawaii (I know, I know—I’m sorry, okay?). Though the first half of UXA isn’t technically over yet—week 13 has a reduced schedule of assignments based around synthesizing and debriefing the conclusion of our final Phase I project—my coursework is going to have to take a brief but complete back seat to some much needed (and well-earned, I might add) rest and relaxation.
Enter Maui: an island in an archipelago in a state I have still never been to (yet) and a commitment (to which my partner will most certainly hold me) to take a break and unplug for an entire glorious, mostly sun-kissed week. (Apparently the Seattle rain has decided to punish us for fleeing by following us for half our vacation—but still, I don’t care because HAWAII.)
But before I turn my phone off, dig my feet into the sand and work on systematically decluttering my mind of all of the UX design thoughts that have been taking up most of my internal bandwidth lately, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the first half of this accelerated, rapid-fire design learning experience, and how it has forever changed me.
What follows is a combination of musings on the lessons—about both life and design—that I’ve taken from the first half of my coursework. There’s also a sprinkling of tips for anyone currently studying, or interested in pursuing this UX design path.
1. UX design is hard to explain, because it’s sort of everything
The funny thing about UX design is that most people outside the industry have no idea what it is. Try to explain it and they get even more confused. We’ve talked about this before—on the one hand, UX design is this amorphous, all-encompassing, ever-expanding space where magical things happen. But on the other hand, it’s also a lot of other, more concrete things: user research, prototyping, interaction design—you name it.
My guess is that the definition of UX design will keep evolving until humanity eventually reaches a point of such technological advancement that we cease to occupy physical space (we’re talking millions of years in the future here people—I’m an optimist, see). Until then, UX design will continue to attract those of us who are simply fascinated with the multitude of possibilities it presents.
So buckle up and get ready for a lot of labored explanations to your relatives about what it is that you actually do.