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It’s been a busy first quarter here at Designlab! Our internal team, mentor roster, and student community has grown over the past year, and with it our capacity for improvements. Read on to discover more about what’s changed in our admissions process, opportunities for the community to gather and grow together, and in-platform updates to things like dynamic instructions, submissions, and capstones. 

New: The Student Life Committee

The Student Life Committee (SLC) was born this quarter as a student-led initiative that intends to help promote and increase engagement throughout the UX Academy community. The committee currently has 20+ student and alumni volunteers who are maintaining subcommittees with different initiatives like content, design, events, and alumni. Two exciting monthly events focused on networking and learning are already being hosted by this committee: Virtual Field Trips and Empower Hours.

During Virtual Field Trips, students attend design-related events together and then participate in a Take-Away Talk to discuss their learnings and experiences from the virtual event.

Two different types of Empower Hours are held monthly as meet and greet virtual events. The first is held at the end of each new cohort’s first week, and all members of the UX Academy community are encouraged to attend, including mentors and alumni. These are great opportunities for new students to make connections with current students.

The second Empower Hour is a lunch-and-learn that can be hosted by anyone in the community. The topic can be design-related or not, but is meant to encourage learning and foster relationships through common interest.

Student Life Committee 1 Student Life Committee 2

Admissions Updates

In an effort to increase clarity around our requirements and expectations for admission into UX Academy, we’ve done the following:

  • Implemented a new, more objective rubric for design reviewers to utilize when assessing prospective students’ design work in the application review process.
  • Provided visual examples for each rubric parameter, which is available for Foundations students and mentors.
  • Standardized and clarified submission requirements for applicants with previous design experience.
  • Added a dedicated Admissions section to our Help Center where you can learn more about all of the above and how best to apply for our program.

Capstone Project Updates

We’re working with mentors, facilitators, and students to review and/or rewrite all of the capstone project briefs that reside within Phase 2 of UX Academy. Expect to see more flexible briefs to fit your needs as a budding designer—for example, we’ll be removing capstone project sequences, so students won’t have to complete their capstone projects in any specific order. If you want to start with the app creation capstone, go for it. If you have a client lined up for the responsive capstone, awesome. If you already did some research for the adding a feature capstone, superb!

Dynamic Instructions Update

As well as the work on the capstones, all other projects in UX Academy (except for bonus projects) have been rewritten to include step-by-step instructions and suggested time plans when appropriate. Like many iterations, consider this a "for-now" state, with more versions to come as we continue to improve our course content and structure. If you see any issues or if things don't make sense, please send a note to our team. 

Submissions Flow Updates 

We've built a brand new upload flow which streamlines how students submit their coursework to be reviewed by their mentor. It allows for more control and guidance during critical steps, as well as:

  • Easily accessible file preparation tips to help students create multi-page documents or reduce size
  • Thumbnail image preview to ensure the right file has been uploaded and appears correctly
  • Click-to-zoom preview of uploaded image(s)
  • Fewer required prompts, and improved error messaging
  • Confirmation of each submission including a motivational or design quote to keep design inspiration flowing 🤩 (see example below)

Upload Modal Success Screen


If you’re interested in checking out and making use of these new updates (and more!) as we move into Q2, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program.

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