Plant stems growing in pots
Plant stems growing in pots
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

During my last semester at college, I took a course titled “Collaborative Workshop”. The entire course focused on how to best collaborate within a team setting. We were placed into groups of 4 or 5. These were our “creative director” groups. As creative directors, we would be directing our project and leading a group of designers. This was my first taste of creative directing. Here’s what I learned…

Set your team up for success

When leading a project, you obviously want the project to be successful. You want your team to feel proud about the fact that they worked on a successful project. Initially, I thought creative directing meant giving your designers creative freedom to explore. When drafting our brief, I decided to give our designers guiding principles to follow and clear deliverables, but I let them have the freedom to figure out the solution on their own. …

This past summer, I spent 4 months living in Vancouver and interning at one of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft. Here’s how it happened.

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You haven’t interned at Microsoft if you don’t have pictures to prove it.

Let’s go back to the start of this rollercoaster ride, almost a year ago. I was about to go into my third year at Sheridan College in the Bachelor’s of Interaction Design program. My main goal (and source of stress) was to find a design internship for the upcoming summer. I had recently released the latest version of my portfolio and just updated my resume with my added experience of interning at Pivot Design Group during summer 2018. I was ready to go.

The Make-Up of a Microsoft Garage Intern 🧬

But before we dive in, what do you need before applying to Microsoft Garage?

  1. A well-defined resume. Although previous industry experience is definitely a bonus, I’ve met interns who’s first internship was at Microsoft. But, they were part of clubs, participated in hackathons and volunteered at industry events. Not all experience is industry experience. Make sure you list these types of experiences on your resume along with your role, objectives and impact you had. …

Dennis, Lead Researcher at ecobee, shares how he discovered the world of UX Research and what he has planned for our Intro to UXR course

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Dennis Lagman

This spring, UX Research TO launched our first ever course, Intro to UX Research, here in Toronto. In our Meet the Instructors article series, we’re introducing you to all of our wonderful teachers.

Dennis Lagman is the Lead Researcher at ecobee, a home automation company that produces both hardware and software products.

In my conversation with him, Dennis shared his experience in managing small User Research teams, talked about what he has planned for the “Intro to UXR” course and gave key tips on how to break into the UXR community.

Read all about it and more below!

DZ: What drew you into the world of UX Research? How did you get to where you are now?

DL: You’ve probably heard this before, but I didn’t find UX research, UX research found me. Before becoming a UX researcher, I worked at a small startup where I was responsible for building and managing an online community website for individuals working in Toronto and Waterloo’s tech sector. …

A UXR from Shopify gives us a sneak peek into how her team has built a strong culture of UX research ahead of our next meetup

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Shopify’s Alison Post

Hey, UXRTO community! Did you miss us, because we sure miss you! 😁

We’re coming back to you with our next meetup this month at Shopify. We’ll be chatting about how your organization can scale up research and utilize user feedback to influence product roadmaps. Here’s the deets:

📍Shopify HQ (80 Spadina Ave #400, Toronto, ON)

📅 April 24, 6:00 to 8:30 PM

Alison Post, current UX Researcher at Shopify and former contributor at BlogTO, will be kicking off the night by highlighting how research works at Shopify.

Ahead of the meetup, I chatted with her about the research process at Shopify, how she got mesmerized by UX research, and what she likes to do when she’s not working at one of Canada’s largest and fastest growing companies. …

“If organizations don’t embody principles of human-centred design, we aren’t setting up talented people for success.”

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✨ Hira has a passion about how humans interact with technology. She’s worked in information architecture, design strategy and user experience research.

✨ She discusses the concept of UX maturity. Some indicators for UX maturity are the level of UX involvement, access to in-house and external resources, and incorporation of user input and feedback.

✨ Hira talks about the importance of reflecting on the journey of UX maturity and what you’ve learned along the way; always looking into the future of UX and how your organization can constantly learn and improve.

“We can’t develop strategies and products without UX Research.”


Hira is a design strategist at Scotiabank as well as an instructor at the University of Waterloo. She discussed the concept of UX maturity in organizations. …

“How can the government better understand the people they’re trying to serve?”

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✨ Lucia is the User Research Lead at the Ontario Digital Service (ODS). They’re dedicated to creating simpler, faster and better online services for you!

✨ The digital government wants to create an agile approach when desigining products, with user research at the forefront.

✨ Lucia discusses the challenges that are evident in the digital government. Big organizations change slowly, the process is hard and there’s a big cultural shift from waterfall to agile methods. However, she states “we have to start somewhere” and that’s exactly what ODS is doing.

“When we create digital services, we set our standards high.”


Dedicated to the community and passionate about people, Lucia Hsieh talks about user research in public service. …

“The right kind of A/B testing is tiny and specific. Your results will also be tiny and specific.”

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Sam Ladner kicked the #UXRConf by talking about world renowned scientist Marie Curie’s discovery of polonium and radioactivity through generative research and the importance of understanding basic science when conducting user research.

“Science is not A/B testing. Science is generative.”

She stated that “the right kind of A/B test is tiny and specific.” Humans don’t know what we’re bad at, we don’t know what’s feasible. Computer interactions and machine learning are still an enigma to us.

We believe that A/B testing eliminates risks and gives us a sense of certainty. Sam challenges that notion and says the A/B testing actually increases risk. …

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Tweet by @mgoldst that I really needed to hear…or actually read

Am I not passionate about my degree anymore? – and other questions to fuel my identity crisis.

Ever since I started learning, my parents taught me that school was everything. Pay attention in school, enjoy your classes, get good grades. This was the road to success. For the most part, I did get good grades and I did enjoy my classes. I was always fond of learning and I wanted to try a little bit of everything, which made it hard for me to choose a major.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am, in my second year working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Interaction Design. It seems like the perfect fit for me, I get to try a little bit of everything; some coding, visual design, 3D modelling, video editing. First year was great. I enjoyed the majority of my classes equally and was passionate about everything I was learning. However, things started to change as I entered my second year. I started to think more about my future. I began to realize what my preferences are. I’m much more interested in my Design Systems and Research class rather than my 3D Design class. I’m more passionate about the projects and the course material in that class and I cannot comprehend 3D modelling. In my mind, that’s not okay. I have to enjoy everything I’m learning. My peers seem to be engaged and passionate about every class, why can’t I be? After all, nothing is more important than school. I should focus all my energy towards my education. To fuel this already irrational train of thought, I realized that I am much happier at work than in the classroom. I work at my college’s student union and plan engagements for various awareness initiatives such as mental health awareness, healthy campus life, amongst others. I’m also a part of my college’s WUSC Local Committee. WUSC, an acronym for World University Service of Canada, is a non-profit organization that provides employment, empowerment and education opportunities for youth, women and refugees around the world. I’m incredibly passionate about this initiative. …

Starting from summer 2017 and onwards…

  1. I’ll Give You the Sun — Jandy Nelson
  2. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  3. The Song of Achilles — Madeline Miller
  4. The Sun is Also a Star — Nicola Yoon
  5. The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
  6. The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender — Leslye Walton
  7. The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern
  8. A List of Cages — Robin Roe
  9. More Happy Than Not — Adam Silvera
  10. History is All You Left Me — Adam Silvera
  11. They Both Die at the End — Adam Silvera
  12. You — Caroline Kepnes
  13. Where Things Come Back — John Corey…

It’s a cold, dark day in November. I’m in 11th grade, sitting in class, absently doodling in my agenda. I haven’t been myself lately. Intrusive thoughts have been rattling around my mind for weeks. I want to cry, scream, disappear. Some of my friends have been feeling the same way, calling it depression. A revelation in form of a question pops into my mind: “Wait, am I depressed?”.

Putting labels on my feelings and mental health has always been important to me. It’s a sort of comfort knowing that there is a specific term to describe what you’re experiencing. It’s comforting to type in your symptoms on Google and have WebMD spit out a term like “Seasonal Affective Disorder” and have that term describe everything that you’re feeling. It makes it easier to explain to people too, because all you want to do is have someone say that they get it, that they’re experiencing it too. It’s nice to feel less alone. However, like always, I contradict myself. Step 1: Find your label. Step 2: Reject it. It has always been like this for me. It took me a long time to accept that I have depression and anxiety. There is a huge stigma surrounding mental illness in my family and community. Many people believe it isn’t as serious and can be cured with positive thoughts and prayer. Although I don’t believe that entirely, I did believe that many other people had it worse thus what I was feeling was probably not “real” depression. I was never officially diagnosed with the mental illness. …


Duaa Zaheer

ux designer with lots of opinions about lots of different things. incoming product design intern at @facebook✨

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