Back to School

Before I learned about Huge School, my plan was to just try to get hired somewhere as a product designer and learn the concepts and processes I’ve learned these two weeks the hard way. I’d probably be at some company making mistakes with way worse consequences for my credibility and my job if it weren’t for a Linked In post I saw on one of the few times a year I even remember to check Linked In. Crazy.

But now Im here and omg its the best.

Week 1

The first week we learned about Discovery, usability, research, stakeholder interviews, and designing for TV. I had broad definitions for these concepts in my head, but getting an actual lesson on each helped a ton, especially research and stakeholder interviews. We ended the week with a trip to Cooper Hewitt, where I fell in love with their new Jeweled Splendors of the Art Deco era exhibit. Totally not design related. Just dope.

Week 2

In Week 2 things got interesting. We learned about sketching, accessibility, and wireframes, but the Structure lesson had to be the toughest for me. Makes sense though. Structure was the first time I was introduced to a completely new concept. Everything else I had varying levels of experience in it or something similar.

In high school, when I studied for tests on subjects I struggled in (so english and any math past geometry), the only thing that worked was repetition. I would my room back and forth, repeating formulas until I could say them conversationally.

We did 2 structure design exercises. I think I did better the second time, but I’m not sure I’d be able to do a 3rd, especially by myself.

But Im going to try. Repetition.

Structure

The craziest thing about the structure lecture was realizing how *essential* of a concept it is to understanding UX. Structure is the organization of a system of features that make up a larger system. This “system” could be literally anything btw. A shoe, a website, an airport. How that structure looks: the order of things, the hierarchy, how things are placed and grouped, communicate the goals and priorities of a site or system better than anything written. The structure is real.

It’s like if Facebook’s main priority was photo sharing. Nothing about the order of the pages or the placements of elements and modules supports that. Once in the Facebook app, sharing a status takes 1 click. Sharing a photo takes 3 more beyond that. And theres no way to take a photo from the facebook app. Compare that to VSCO cam, where taking a photo is one click away.

For Sophie’s challenge, we had to take a site / product / service, break it down to its tiniest pieces and build it back up to clearly show the goals/priorities based on hierarchy, emphasis, and placement. I’ve decided to take on the first challenge again, where we picked a website we frequently visited, broke it down “from boulders to pebbles” and built it back up again. This time Im choosing myfitnesspal, a site I visit almost daily to input my meals and track my calories for the day.

Within the last few years, MFP has introduced a stronger social element to the site, adding a feed to the home page. But the hierarchy makes it seem like the social element is the focus, not keeping track of your calories. Theres also currently multiple ways to get to multiple pages, making the site seem more bloated than it is.

Currently, the site breaks down this way:

Its super small, I know :/. But basically I mapped out every page and drew lines to show their relationship to each other. Side note: It’s crazy which sites you think are super simple until you do something like this!

Then, I removed the duplicates:

Then I grouped based on what I thought MFP’s priorities are:

1: Help People track nutrients, calories, and exercise

2: Motivate people to reach their goals

3: Create a community

4: Allow users to customize their tracking & settings

5: Be an authority that users trust.

At this point there was a few more little tweaks. More shuffling of things into different priorities and deleting stray duplicates, until I had a much more streamlined new structure:

Its hard to see details, but its definitely apparent that the structure got less bulky and more light weight. And the #1 priority is much more clear now: help people track their calories. I pushed lots of social stuff into the profile, and got rid of the million ways to get to one page to make the site easier to navigate and less confusing.

So. Goals for next week:

  1. Make better decks!

I still have a little trouble managing to fit in research and strategy into a deck, especially when we’re short on time, which we usually are. I’ll be looking into learning to manage my time better and maybe making some generic quick-decks to drop info into during crunch time.

2. Check out the auto layout and anime sketch plugins.

3. Delving more into accessibility.

I had tons of questions for our accessibility presenter but I had an assignment to get back to so I couldn’t spare any time. One thing I thought about was what *sort* of differently-abled person is maybe overlooked when we talk about a11y. Like maybe poor people without access or who don’t use computers often? People who can’t type or..spell? Or read really? What’s accessibility look like for them? Maybe Im over thinking it? Maybe its another thing? Who knows, but we’re only 2 weeks in, we get our first mini-project next week, and I think Im ready.

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