GDD710 Week 1: Orientation

Image credit: Jametlene Reskp

SITREPs & Pledges.

For the first post of my critical reflective journal, I thought it would be appropriate to take inventory, of sorts. I’d like to log my knowledge of user experience design and product development, in both an industrial and academic capacity. 

My studies in psychology and creative writing, and my work in education (before moving to tech), synergise well with UX/UI. In my introductory forum post for this course, I said: 

My major has inspired me to better my understanding of behaviour. Often, I find myself pondering whether my actions — opening social media apps on my commute, for example — are conscious or habitual. Even before discovering UX, I was keen to combine my study of psychology with my interest in technology. My dissertation was a MANCOVA study of attention to tattoos using eye movement tracking. I saw the study as a chance to try out ‘cool’ technology, as much an investigation into whether tattoos drew significant fixation.

My minor was, first and foremost, an outlet for my creativity. In the context of the tech industry, I have found prose to be comparable to a software’s user journey. Storytelling has frequently been a useful thought exercise in QA, to unpick edge-case behaviours.

I think the same exercise could be applied to the design process. Creating a story for myself, I can better consider design nuances [and user requirements]. Sharing the story with developers can give context to proposed work in sprint plans.

On leaving university, I undertook a series of cover and support teaching roles. As a mathematics intervention teacher, I had a knack for finding gaps in my students’ knowledge, and curating lessons to nudge them in the right direction. In UX, my designs would nudge end users in a similar way, to maximise the value they reap from the software.

In the more recent chapters of my life —when I joined the tech industry — I’ve harvested experiences to strategically position myself for a future in UX/UI.

I gained a foundational understanding of user experience by shadowing the resident UX designer at the first tech company I worked at. From there, I felt my way around Adobe XD by building ‘demo’ models of the live version of our product. Essentially, they allowed the sales team to walk enquirers through a demo-on-rails of the platform, avoiding any bugs they might have encountered by demoing in a live environment.

Moving into my next role — a bespoke software development agency — I was able to co-deliver consultation workshops for clients. I honed my XD and InDesign skills by producing social media content and brand centric assets. Beyond a few website reskins, I am yet to apply those skills to a product with specific attention to user experience. I know my way around the toolbox, but I haven’t built the house.

I’ve seen agile methodology and sprint work from the outskirts. I’ve raised bugs and experience issues in sprint planning sessions, but I have never delivered work in sprints, alongside a development team.

I’m a creative person, but my creativity is an unrefined resource. I’m practised in powering through writers block, but I have found that I have a tendancy to latch into what I think are good ideas. At its best, this trait allows me to overflow with rapid-fire ideas at the start of a project. At its worst, it gives me tunnel vision, making me less receptive to other ideas.

That’s the current state of play. Now, I’d like to forecast my position in twelve week’s time.

  • I will have started to compile a more varied portfolio, with work of all fidelities. Accompanying the portfolio, I’ll offer commentary on my own approach to wireframing, and deep-dives on polished artefacts.
  • I will have worked collaboratively with other designers and developers. I’ll deliver my share of a team project, with focus on communication and whole-team agility.
  • I will harness my creativity to consistently produce new and appropriate ideas. I’ll have the confidence to unlatch from my own ideas and avoid tunnel vision.
  • I will enhance my industry work with academia. I will be critical of literature, and reflective of my own content. I’ll have acquired new research skills and become more academic in my writing.

In my Week 12 entry, I will revisit these pledges. Stay tuned.

Published by Josh 'Skoob' Brough

Experience enthusiast. UX/UI designer. Father to (little) one. Currently studying MA User Experience Design at Falmouth University. Here’s the chronicle.

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