I’m a UX Designer Now!

Some key takeaways from my time at General Assembly

Alec O'Grady
Oct 18, 2017 · 3 min read

This past week, I finished the UX Design Immersive class at General Assembly in San Francisco. In 10 weeks, I’ve done 3 major projects as well as made a UX design portfolio and worked with a startup. Along with learning everything from research to prototyping, I’ve made 24 new friends who I will literally never forget.

I’ve learned a lot at my time at General Assembly, and plan on learning a lot more. There’s always more to learn. But, here are a few key points that stood out while I was at General Assembly.

You’re not always in Sketch

I said this in an earlier article, but I can’t stress it enough. UX is totally dependent on research. You can’t make a design decision if it’s not based on research. Sure, YOU may think something looks great and works phenomenal, but what does your user think?

Some of the most valuable tools I learned were all in the research phase. How to ask non-leading questions, user interviews, competitive analysis, heuristic analysis, user flows, sitemaps and developing personas are all just some of the core concepts of UX. All of these influence your designs and how your product will do in the real world.

We have the power to shape the internet and influence the world

People are constantly surrounded by bad design, whether they realize it or not. When you use an app that’s hard to navigate, that’s bad design. When you press a button and nothing happens, that’s bad design. And people recognize bad design because it will make them angry, or question why it’s taking them forever to complete a simple task.

Companies like AirBNB, WeWork & Square are all excellent examples of great design. People use their products because they’re intuitive, functional and look amazing.

The position of UX Design is incredibly important to any company and the future of the technology industry. Our work has the opportunity to reach and affect billions of people. I firmly believe that we can help make the internet, and ultimately the world, a better place.

I’m not saying that Designers are the most important people in a company. But, I firmly believe that we do have influence on how well a product does in the real world.

“My biggest purpose is ultimately to help inspire others through the use of technology. As a UX Designer, I’m actively helping push the internet forward in a positive way. As a creator, I’m making it look better.”

Feedback is crucial

On every project that I worked on, I would constantly be getting feedback from my peers and my instructors. It wasn’t all feedback that was amazing, but that’s what great feedback is. It’s sharing what can be improved, while also validating what was done right.

Feedback will help encourage your design and help you pivot when necessary. Without feedback, you’re not improving. I made it a point to get feedback and put my design work out there, even if I knew it wasn’t going to receive all great reviews.

Keeping a schedule is vital

I’ve developed a schedule every day that I’ve been sticking to for 10 weeks, and I already feel the difference. I haven’t been as creative and productive like I have in the last 10 weeks since high school.

Having a schedule with to-do lists and reminders keeps me on track and ensures that I’m getting done with what I’m supposed to. It took a lot of self discipline. But once I got in the groove of it, I couldn’t stop.

Meeting people over coffee

I’ve heard of this networking tactic since the beginning of the class. You message someone over LinkedIn who has the job that you want. You buy them coffee and pick their brain, but you don’t ask about getting a job. You just simply connect, ask them questions and hope that they remember you.

Networking is really important, I’ve found this to be a lot more successful for me than attending networking events. It’s more personal, I get more information, and I create a real connection.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Consider giving it a few 👏🏻! As always, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter & my website.

Alec O'Grady

Written by

UX Designer // Photographer // Filmmaker {Currently in San Francisco}

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