Hey there, design reader!
Guess who’s back and blasting through Phase 2 of my UX Academy Journey? This aspiring UX designer is who!
A quick catch up on what’s been going on with the program thus far: With three back-to-back capstone projects (sort of like final projects that display both your design skills and the processes used all wrapped up into pretty portfolio pieces), Phase 2 is like the last leg of the marathon, to say the least. It’s all about distilling down the design methodology lessons learned in Phase 1 of the program and applying them in active bursts of rapid UX design execution.
When I say rapid, I mean it
In Phase 1, I worked on the KAUS insurance project for the better part of three and a half months. In Phase 2, each of the three capstones are completed in the span of three-ish weeks from start to finish. (You can stretch it if you use the week between projects to do a final round of revisions).
In the four short weeks since Phase 2 began, the coursework has progressed from synthesizing the lessons from Phase 1, then a personal branding kickoff (in preparation for those portfolio pieces I mentioned earlier), and now a running jump into capstone 1—all with a new mentor both guiding my learning and raising the bar.
It is fast. It is intense. It is an amazing learning experience.
Yes, occasionally the information overload is still reminiscent of drinking from a firehose, but, as they say, practice really does make perfect. Repetition is the key to learning, and whenever I start to feel overwhelmed or struggle to fully understand and embrace an essential UX design lesson, I adopt a silly (but effective) little meditation to get me through: I step away from the screen, close my eyes for a moment, and imagine myself as a person-sized sponge, soaking up all the knowledge from that fire hose, to be squeezed out and saved for later when I hit a design wall, or my inspiration dries up. (Pardon the pun. And this whole analogy.)
I know it’s weird. You’re not wrong. But it also lightens the mood and reminds me that this is the hard work of rapid design learning that will, undoubtedly, pay off in the end. Much in the way yoga is referred to as a “practice”—it can take years of showing up and trying to bend and stretch yourself into a pretzel before your body actually starts to work that way and the benefits materialize—so has UX design become for me. Maybe some people are natural yogis, or instant UX design savants, but I, alas, am not on either front. It took me years of failed downward dogs before my body ever actually clicked into it well enough to enjoy the experience. It took me a decade of practice, but eventually—finally—I broke through.
Practice, repetition, reiteration. Boom.
Phase 1 was all about familiarizing myself with the fundamentals of UX design. Phase 2 has become all about—you guessed it—refining my practice and building better, stronger, and more efficient design processes.
As I wrap up the first capstone project, I thought it best to share some of the core lessons I’ve taken from Phase 2 thus far—not about the UX design methodologies themselves, but instead about how to support my practice as a UX designer in a rapid setting.