Jimena’s first week at Ironhack’s UI/UX bootcamp in Miami

Jimena Quan: My name is Jimena Quan, and I was born and raised in Guatemala but I’m half Mexican. After high school I went to Monterrey, Mexico where I went to college years and where I had my first professional work experience.
After Monterrey I decided to come to the U.S. to get my MBA (Master in Business Administration) here in Pittsburgh. I was in the program for two years and after my MBA I began to work here in Miami.
My professional background is business operations and process management. I worked for a company that was in charge of all the processes for Cinépolis which is a big movie theater company. I was in charge of managing the consultants in Latin America in India.
We were in charge of all the movie theater processes, from how to make popcorn to how the movie screen should be set. How do you receive the customers? Everything involving the experience.
After that, I was moving around across the U.S. with my partner and then he got a job in Miami. So we came back to Miami and while I was looking for jobs I decided that it would be better if I started networking, going to events and maybe learning new skills. That’s when I came to an event here in Ironhack “The Women’s Code Weekend”.
At that event I learned basic HTML and CSS and I loved it. So I wanted to learn more about it and at first I was interested in the Fullstack Development Bootcamp, but then thinking more about my background, and my business experience managing teams and being a project manager, I thought the UX/UI Bootcamp would be a better fit for me to start with and maybe in the future I could learn frontend or backend.

What motivated you to join Ironhack’s UI/UX bootcamp?

Jimena Quan: I’m very interested in entrepreneurship and startups. That’s what made me want to learn more about technology and coding and what’s going on in the industry.
Especially because I have some personal startup ideas that I’m working. My partner and I were considering having some developers in the Philippines work on the technical side of our project. So knowing UX/UI is very important to develop and communicate the ideas that I am working on with the developers.
As an entrepreneur, UX is very important so that yor’re able to manage a project correctly when you’re not the developer and when you are managing a team of developers. So I think that’s why I was like “yeah this is perfect for where I’ve seen myself going”.
And just from the time that I’ve been here at Ironhack my communication with the developers has completely changed. Now I understand what they are talking about and it’s communication is even easier after learning to use tools to wireframe like Balsamiq. So it’s hasn’t been a long time that I’ve been in the UX/UI bootcamp but I’ve learned that it’s applicable to what I want to do.

What was the first week all about?

Jimena Quan: The first week was all about user research and being the advocate for the user. For me it was a little tough because I’m coming from a very business oriented background where everything revolves around “business efficiencies” and business, business, business.
So it was hard for me to step back and say, “Okay wait, I need to be the customer advocate and think more about the customer without forgetting the business part.” I think the big thing for me was taking the business hat off and think more about the customer.
We are learning about a lot of tools to really learn about what the customer needs and wants. It was a little hard for me at the beginning but at the end of the week everything makes sense.
And it’s really hard because you are full of preconceptions. Preconceptions of things that you think the customer thinks or feels. But you don’t know, you really don’t know, so you need to get out there and really go and ask.
A lot of this stuff is very qualitative so you need to talk to customers, to listen and understand them. From the business point, it’s not like statistics or and it’s not quantitative, it’s not about that. The first week of the UX/UI bootcamp has been more about talking to people and listening to them.

What was the tool that you liked the most?

Jimena Quan: I’ve never done marketing before but I feel like the first week of the UX/UI bootcamp has been a little similar to marketing without being marketing.
The tool that I really liked was the personas. We built a persona and got into the detail of what do they do since they wake up until they go to sleep. It’s about understanding their whole day, what do they do during their whole day.
I was getting into the details of what the persona does, what they like, what they use. Are they text savvy or not, where do they go for social media, all those types of things.
Building the personas was a very important tool. It’s very important because at the end of the day when you are working on your project and you need to communicate clearly to the people in your team who they are building this product for, so they can be more empathic. The past week has also been about empathy, empathy with the customer, with the user.
It was a lot of understanding and asking questions, so the first thing we did were interviews. We created a set of questions to discover what users want, how they use things and stuff like that.

What are customer journey maps and how will it help you develop your business ideas?

Jimena Quan: The other tool that I like and that I think is very useful was the customer journey maps. A type of flow chart of the customer and how they interact with the product, website or the app.
How they interact with it since they wake up and how they use it. It’s a flow chart that allows you to plan and say “okay this is how they use it, these are their pain points, this is how they are feeling at that moment when they are using it.” This plan makes you realize that you are creating something for them.
Ironhack: When you are looking at developing an idea in the future, how will this customer journey map help you?
Jimena Quan: I think it will help match a project to their lifestyle and to make things simple for them. Customer journey maps make you think about what users are doing so that you can adapt to what they are doing and how they want to use this thing that you are creating for them. To make the product simple, to make it usable for them.
Customer journey maps make you think and seeing the flow keeps you from forgetting anything.
Ironhack: Oh and I imagine you can also discover other pieces.
Jimena Quan: Exactly, discover what else they are doing so you can then add another feature.

What was the most challenging thing of the week?

Jimena Quan: For me the challenging thing was not thinking as the business since I come from a very strong business background and being more of the customer advocate.
During the first few days I was making something very general, and I thought that getting into the details of what the customer does in a day was of little use.
But then I realized, “no wait a minute. This is user experience and this is how UX works, you need to get into the details and you need to create these user stories of what the customers are doing.”
Because in business you see more of a “big picture” and reduce things to numbers and statistics of people you don’t get very deep into the customer’s life like, “this user is called Maria and what Maria does in her day” that kind of stuff.
So for me it was challenging because I was sticking to the business side of things and only looking the big picture. Getting to deeply know the user was challenging for me.

After your first week how has the UI/UX bootcamp helped you grown as an entrepreneur?

Jimena: The Ironhack UX/UI bootcamp has definitely helped me in the projects that I’m trying to develop as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you start with an idea and you’re like, “oh I’m going to build this and just do it.” While I haven’t asked anyone anything. I haven’t asked people if they want my product or not, and it’s especially helpful when taking an idea that it worked in the U.S. and trying and make it work in Latin America.
I’m thinking, “oh it worked here or it worked in India, why won’t it work in Latin America?” So I was building everything with a very similar experience to what’s here without asking people there, “is this what you want? Are you even interested in it?”
So I think that the UX/UI bootcamp will really help me to do the user experience research before doing any wireframing. Because I had actually started doing wireframes before having done any user research.
Ironhack: So how do you think this user research is going to change the direction of your wireframes?
Jimena: They will definitely change the direction because there are things that will be different in these wireframes for the Latin American audience. Latin Americans will want different things and things work differently there.
With similar products things are completely different. Let’s say in terms of payments, in Latin America there’s not complete trust in paying online as there is here in the U.S. So that’s something that you need to ask, “how would you like to pay? What do you trust?” Shipping is another big thing down there, if you ship something in the US they can leave it at your front door and it’s safe. In Latin America you still cannot do that, you need to find other options. I guess if you’re asking people you can find the solutions to build a better product.

What can you tell me about your classmates?

Jimena: Very good, we’re a small group. So it’s very good because we get time to voice our opinions and suggestions and we’re all able to participate.
We’re all very different. We all come from different backgrounds so that’s very good because we learn from each other. I might have a different way of doing things or thinking than somebody else, so that’s pretty cool.
Ironhack: Tell me a little bit about someone that you have talked with?
Jimena: I’ve talked to everybody as I said we’re very close since we’re a small group. But for example, next to me is Ita and its been very nice to know her. She has a marketing background and it’s been very interesting to see her opinions and what she thinks. It’s been very nice.
There’s a guy in front of me that’s from Puerto Rico. He came to Ironhack to Miami just for the UX/UI bootcamp. His background was customer service so it’s really, really nice to learn from somebody that was so close to the customers.

What has your experience been like with your teacher?

Jimena Quan: So my teacher Jacqueline is great. She makes us feel very comfortable, everyone can just express what they think, and she’s a very, very good teacher. She has a lot of experience.
I met her here at Ironhack because I came to a UX/UI workshop that she was giving. So I had met her that day and now seeing all that she knows, I think she has 20 years of experience, is very good. She is very good, she knows a lot so you know you are learning from an expert.

What are you most excited about learning next in the UI/UX bootcamp?

Jimena Quan: This week we’re learning about information architecture and I’m really excited about this topic. I think it’s very interesting.
It’s basically the way you are going to organize the content of a website, app, software or whatever you are developing. A way that that allows customers to search and find what they are looking for.
I think that’s very important. There’s different types of websites that have different content or amounts of content, so it’s very important that you need to make sure customers find what they’re looking for so that you’re not losing sales.

Show us a few things that you learned during your first week of UI/UX design?

Jimena: A lot of the stuff we did I have it here in pictures. There was a lot of writing that was posted here. What we’re doing there are interviews that we did. We were putting up the the findings we had discovered when doing an affinity map. So here everyone was doing an affinity map and putting together what they found in from the interviews.
Ironhack: What’s an affinity map?
Jimena: An affinity map is where you put together all your findings from interviews, different people will put it together. Affinities are basically similarities that you find and that will help you to see what needs are common to all customers.
So, for example, we have titles like complaints. You can see complaints are a big area, you can say, “okay what are common complaints? So a lot of people are asking for the same thing…”
This is where we were working on our utility company project. So they were complaining about rates. If you see a lot of people complaining about the same thing, then you will try to come up with a solution for that.
Then we had payments, how they do it online versus in paper. We had billing, we had smartphones like what type of phones do people have. So you know what you are going to design for. We started doing sketching during the last day of last week.
We did sketching for this class project, Sun Pass, which is a toll system here in Florida. We sketched the UX/UI wireframes and then we used Pop App which is a low fidelity wireframing app where you take the pictures of your wireframe sketches and then link then together in Pop App. These icons are two different pages from the app.
It’s very low fidelity wireframing and sketching which is very easy to do. Then you test it right away and you sketch it out and you show it to some people and say, “well what do you think of something like this” before getting into high fidelity sketching or wireframing.

What can you tell us about your blog Women in UX/UI and other sites you recommend?

Jimena: So I started Women in UX/UI to share my Ironhack UX/UI bootcamp experience and I have added a resource part to it where I have all the stuff I’ve been learning.
These are things that I’ve learned since I came to the Women’s Code weekend at Ironhack. Because we had a UX speaker and I was writing down all the stuff that she was advising to check. So I started Women in UX/UI to share my journey.
So there are a lot of tools that I’ve learned about. Some tools we haven’t gone over them here during the UX/UI bootcamp but I’ve learn of them while just talking about stuff.
I will say for web sites I really UX Booth because they have a lot of guides like this complete guide for user research. And actually they use this information for our pre-work stuff. It’s a really good Web site I really recommend it.
The other one that I subscribe to that I think it’s good is Hack Design. You’ll get a weekly newsletter of information and it will give you something about user research.
UserTesting is a website where you do usability tests and I’ve been a tester for two years now. Funny I didn’t know I was going to end up on the other side of this testing but they have webinars for UX related information and I’ve attended two webinars so far.
For a sample one was the product manager of Napster which I didn’t know Napster was still alive but it is. So the product manager was sharing information on how she sees UX from the point of view of a manager and how she handles her team.
So it’s pretty nice to see a lot of information. And then this week I think the designer from IBM Watson had a webinar where she would talk about how they handle UX and IBM Watson.

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