The hydroponic basil garden as a design story

Almost at the halfway mark of the General Assembly UXDi course, and starting to freak and out wonder how on earth I’m going to be job-ready in a mere 5 weeks’ time. We are three projects in, but only have one real-life client one to go. Am I prepared and ready to put what I’ve learnt so far into practice for a real client or company??

Feeling doubtful, today was probably the perfect day to go to my first ever UX meet-up. In fact my first meet-up ever of any sort.

Held at the REA offices and organised by UX Gatherings meet-up group, the main speaker was Amelia Schmidt. A few of our class mates went, including my current project team. We felt like the new kids on the block, hanging to the side and wanting to mingle but not quite having the guts to (a mild case of imposter syndrome?). At least they had a large supply of bananas (currently the hottest property of the fruit bowls at GA).

And then a lovely man who had just arrived came over to us and started a conversation. And it turned out this was also his first meet-up, and even though he was currently working as a UX Designer at a start-up, he was curious about what we have been learning in our course. He asked us what we use post-it notes for, and what kind of research we do. He told us that in his current role at the start-up, he doesn’t do research, nor is he able to spend time or resources testing iterations — he simply has to get product out and then refine from learnings from live use.

And then his friend came and interrupted, and it turned out that she was a recruiter, who would happen to be at our Meet and Greet event post-course completion. She handed out her business card and already I felt we had succeeded in our first meet-up experience.

Milly (Amelia) did her talk, which was great. She spoke about various times in her life when she employed design thinking and techniques to solve problems. Her last story, and my favourite, was about her high-yielding balcony basil garden, which started from very humble beginnings. Through research, testing and iterations (not to mention some questionable conversations with hydroponic equipment suppliers) it turned into a fantastic and functional herb garden (aka design) with such a good output that she now makes jars and jars of pesto with all the basil.

I have recently found myself wondering how I could “UX” my life, and here was the perfect example.

Another take-away from her talk was from an answer she gave to a question from someone at the end. She was asked if in life she sets small goals to iterate on and achieve, or does she think about bigger life goals, like 5 or 10 year plans. She said that since adopting design thinking and processes into her life she looks to the bigger, longer term life goals. Everything she does in life day-to-day, down to “deciding whether to buy that pair of pants or not” is all working towards her bigger life plan.

I really enjoyed that take on life goals.

So all in all, after starting the week feeling unsure about myself and my future in UX Design, the meet-up was the perfect remedy because I feel reassured again that I am on the right path. It also reconfirmed for me what a great community the UX one is. Thank you UXers!