The User Experience Experience
Prior to enlisting in this User Experience Design class, I already had an idea regarding concepts which I wanted to take note of, things I wanted to truly understand, and new topics which I hoped would be discussed in class. With the experience I got from my internship as a SCRUM Master, Product Manager and UI/UX Designer, and with my involvement in the User Experience Society, it was exciting for me to able to take a formal class that can help me further enhance and solidify my knowledge and understanding of UX.
For the duration of the class, numerous lessons revolved around things I mostly knew of. Creating user flows and wireframes were among those I was already familiar with, but the course did not disappoint in being able to give me a new perspective on the different UX concepts, especially through the AISIS Course & Faculty Online Evaluation Form redesign project. This User Experience Design project proved to be a valuable one, considering that I myself have had issues and complaints with having to answer a tedious evaluation form by hand. The online evaluation form shows a lot of potential in terms of both process improvement and project scalability.
With the redesign project, in the case of user research, I gained knowledge regarding a more structured and better way of finding out who my users actually are; far different from the usual “google and interview” style we did during internship. Being able to conduct an online survey to students of different courses and year levels helped me see the importance of knowing what users really want to happen and how important it is to be able to distinguish which suggestions are worth taking note of and considering during the redesign phase. As it was also my first time to subject my work to usability testing, I found it interesting how much insight and feedback you can get for your design from the results of the tests. I have also found it a habit of mine to take into huge consideration the development part of whatever design project I am handling. From the usability test results, I realized how this does not always prove beneficial since designs which seem better development wise may not turn out to be that which the user would appreciate and make use of.
As for prototyping, I found the essence of being able to actually detail parts of a wireframe, and how valuable it is to spend time on sketches first before using a wireframing and prototyping tool for it. During my internship, I was allowed to skip the drawing part and go straight to digital wireframing which I did through Numbers. Prototypes I presented before involved actual development using HTML/CSS since I was not exactly aware of different prototyping tools yet. With this User Experience Design class, specifically through the project, I had the chance to explore and learn those tools which have proved to be very beneficial. For our team’s first iteration, I enjoyed being able to make use of InVision which my internship boss introduced to me before when he was suggesting color palettes for the application we were developing. I did not have the chance to use it before, but being able to utilize it for the project helped me see the value in tools such as this. Usability tests and presentations were far easier and better to conduct since I no longer had to develop the website for presentation.
However, as much as I found the value of sketches and certain prototyping tools, I definitely dreaded that part. It gets extremely tiring; having to draw multiple wireframes by hand, repeatedly portraying certain sections of a website or a mobile app. I found it a real hassle to have to redo everything whenever you do something wrong with the sketch since it gets messy if you erase it and hard to replace if you do it by pen. With this, I cannot deny how much I liked the process of creating prototypes using InVision. Yes, InVision and not Axure. Upon learning about Axure and downloading it, I thought that it was something I would come to love. I was not present in class when it was taught, but my teammates told me that it would probably easy for me to use since it seemed like an advanced version of Keynote for them. My attempts to utilize Axure, however, were all failed attempts. This is since, when designing, I prefer being able to actually see the edges of the canvas and the complete page all at once, not having to scroll just to see the entire image. Based on my experience with Axure, it did not allow for that no matter how much I tried to zoom out the page. Reasons like this may seem petty, but I find it important, as a designer, to have tools that I am comfortable working with as it helps me finish the work better and faster.
In terms of our group process and dynamics, it was, of course, a pleasure to be able to work with batchmates whose strengths and views vary and are fit to be in one team. Allison Julian has extensive knowledge in design and different perspectives which contribute to the overall improvement of the project. The views and understanding of Ram Dalisay with regards to our users and the value that our redesign project can bring aided in ensuring that the our proposed design will be one that students will come to like. And, of course, the perspective of Kurt Chan as an experienced developer helps into putting things in the right place, giving more insight regarding the best user experience design possible.
Considering the skill set and value each member of the team brings, the process of coming up with ideas and concepts for the redesign project was not at all tedious. Varied opinions, suggestions, and realizations greatly contributed to improvement of the project. It is because of our differences and similarities that we were able to come up with a better and definitely valuable redesigned online evaluation form.
Redesigning the AISIS Course & Faculty Online Evaluation Form was not at all easy, but the learnings and realizations were more than the stress this project caused us. With the experience and knowledge gained from this, among the things that I would do differently in my next redesign project would be to delve into knowing my users more deeply. Despite our efforts to be able to get feedback from a well-represented population, we could have had more input if we spent more time for our survey and interviews. A couple more feedback could have changed the direction of our project. Another aspect which I would take on differently next time would be the analysis of different feedback and perspectives to come up with the best design possible. During our first iteration, we redesigned based largely on a developer’s perspective. Once we knew what the users liked and did not like about the evaluation form, knowing that the students were torn into half as to whether or not they liked certain parts of the form, we decided to go with what seemed best from a development standpoint. This actually goes back to the lack of responses still since if only we were able to interview more students, we would probably get a better feel of what they truly want. Through usability tests, we found out that certain parts of the redesign did not fit the taste of the users since even if there were numerous complaints about it, the real underlying problem was regarding how tedious it was to complete the form considering the format and the evident repetitiveness of the question. This is why, for the following projects, I want to be able to address this.
For our thesis project which falls under our Project Management class, I hope to be able to apply all that I have learned. Since I am mainly responsible for the system design and development in our team, my goal is to come up with a system that the users will truly find value in. Taking UX concepts in mind can definitely help in ensuring that the entire experience for our users is seamless.
With the entire experience from both the User Experience Design class and project, I have decided to consider a real career in the field. I have been struggling with having to choose a path after college but, with the time I spent doing product design work during internship and learning UX concepts in class, I am starting to think about the possibilities of doing User Experience Design work in the future.
When I first learned about this concept, I thought that it was all about the visuals and the technicalities. Throughout the year, I have come to understand that User Experience Design goes beyond it since it involves an entire process which is made to fit and address the pain points, irritations, and problems of a user for their satisfaction. And, true enough, the value of UX continuously amazes me. I am amazed at the relevance of this concept — — how it concept can be applied to whatever product or service, that it is not just confined within the IT industry.
As the semester progressed, so did my appreciation for User Experience Design. This is a concept I would never get tired of teaching to whoever wishes to learn it, and I hope to see a future where UX Design provides for sustainable products and improvement in the different aspects in society.