My takeaways from the course overall and how it relates my professional experience.
User research has been left out or skirted over in many of the projects I've worked on in my professional career because of ‘time constraints’ (yet somehow they find time for three weeks to get back one round of reviews 🤔) or because an idea has strong stakeholder interest (or, this is getting built even if it’s a terrible idea). It was beneficial to get a perspective on how a process might perform in a near-perfect environment without the constraints and changes found in a typical professional setting.
Going into the course, I expected parts of this process to feel very similar to what I've experienced as a designer in my professional career with more emphasis on user research. This mostly matched my expectations, but it also made me realize that much of my professional work has shifted towards fancy front-end animation work when I am much more interested in product design. This course reminded me that I need to steer my career back to product design.
The most value I got out of this course was participating in group work outside of class time. It was beneficial to debate design decisions with a multi-disciplinary team. Additionally, it was beneficial seeing and critiquing classmates’ work, especially in prototyping, because I'm curious how they approach the same problem differently. Finally, I really liked hearing from Jeanine Spence on inclusive design so much that I signed up for the inclusive design course next quarter. Starting out in government work, accessibility has been a strong theme throughout my career and high value is placed on accessible design currently at Vox Media, so I'm interested in expanding my knowledge.
Reflections on the process our team took to complete our project.
Overall, our project was very successful. We had minor setbacks in the process (mostly centered around the details on how to describe parts of the booking process), and every colleague I shared the prototype with remarked that we should turn this into a real product. The only problem with flight APIs being tricky and expensive. If I could’ve found a good API to use, our prototype testing would’ve gone much better and this would’ve behaved close to a real product.
The process was very similar to what I would expect and have experienced in the design portion of product development. Since I have this experience with both large companies and startups (both have their unique challenges), this process went more smoothly than other projects I've launched.
We could’ve had a better product if we had tested some of our sketches with users first to see which ideas got the best traction or were easiest to follow. It would’ve been a quick way of vetting ideas before diving into prototype design.
I’ve already noticed a change in my professional work with pushing back on more client feedback. I’ve always had reasoning behind my design decisions, but lately, I’ve been giving in less to all of the change requests in favor of arguing for a stronger design. In terms of this project, while the competitor analysis was interesting, it could’ve been removed to give more time for iterating on sketches.
What I individually contributed to the project and how well our team worked together.
In addition to splitting responsibilities between my teammates on documents regarding design problem definitions, user research, and presentations, here are deliverables I created to aid our process.
I conducted four interviews & three observations of people using their favorite flight booking tool. From that, I distilled the information into a case study about one of my interviewees, Becky.
I contributed a bunch of sketches to our team review. We ultimately chose one of my sketches to move forward as the basis of our design.
Re-sketch of the chosen design
I started out designing the interface in Sketch because we wanted to try to use InVision to tie screens together for this project, which would give my other team members an opportunity to explore both tools.
One major weakness we had as a team was trying to do too much work in one week. I value efficiency highly in my own work and was frequently reeling our team back into what was feasible to be completed in one week. There were also definite compromises each of us had to consider because of work deadlines, especially when it came to what was going to be included in the prototype.
It was beneficial going through this process in a much more collaborative environment where each team member could take on different responsibilities. I thought this led to a process we all felt much more invested in. Conversely, having everyone involved in every step of the project also meant we spent a lot of time nitpicking our work and not focusing on what was necessary to move forward with the process.
During most of the assignments, we all tried to do the assignment together. I contributed my skills as a designer and front-end developer to the prototyping portion of the project, but I wish there would've been more time for me to allow my teammates to participate in this or another method we could've used which would've accommodated this while still keeping its interactivity. Overall, our team worked well in distributing the work and did a great job volunteering to take on parts of assignments and handle project management tasks.