Introduction to UX Design A learning Journal

Week One

This is my second Adobe Education course and already it's off to a strange start. After a full WEEK or procractinating on this course, and the time clock ticking down I've finally found time to sit down and go through the first week video and boy, was I missing out. The first thing I realized about UX Design, is that I've been UX Designing for YEARS! I used to freelance as a web designer and in my current position I design a lot of print documentation and flyers. The first step to both of these is essentially UX Design.

I figure out what information is needed, who is the intended audience and how the site or document will be used. I sketch out everything so I don't end up designing a whole site and forget to design a login and logout screen (which funnily enough happened while I was sketching out the design for this week's assignment). I have sketched books filled with wire mockups and sketched out layouts for projects i've done YEARS ago. I did not know there was a program that allowed these mockups to turn into a real tangible and "working" thing. Here I've been using photoshop this entire time. Boy do I feel silly!

Week one assignment

Anyway, so for this week's assignment i decided to go with option one and create an assignment uploading website that - hopefully - is intuitive and easy to use. Here is a scan of the quick sketch I did to figure out where everything goes and how pages interact with one another. Notice I forgot to sketch out a login and logout. Silly me.

Putting together the prototype using XD wasn't that difficult from this point. I had never used it before so there was a learning curve and I did have to use the back button a few times. Using the copy and paste method from the instruction video I was able to quickly mockup the site based off the sketches. While working on molding the prototype to my liking, I amended a few things from my sketch. I changed the login screen so it would better match the logout screen i preferred with XD to add a bit more interaction into the prototype than I initially planned. I think it came out well for a first initial prototype, and XD is actually pretty fun to play with!

There are definitely a few things I would like to improve upon but I think this exercise was excellent in getting me familiar with the platform and the things I could accomplish with it.

The image on the login screen was sourced from pixabay. It is my go-to site for royalty free images for projects such as these.

Week Two

So for this week, I realized that I kind of goofed on the last assignment. I was so excited to create this prototype I didn't really just do a straight black and white mockup. Which MEANS that for this week I really had to step the prototype up to make it high fidelity. Challenge accepted!

One thing I will say about Adobe XD, having used it on both a mac and windows is that it isn't really Windows friendly. I don't know if Adobe did that on purpose, but its a real pain to work on in windows. There is no scroll button and the order of the artboards REALLY matters in the final walkthrough. So you can imagine my elation when the spacebar trick was mentioned in the live classroom. It makes this program SO much easier to navigate.

I learned a lot of neat tricks like this for XD this week in attempting to make my prototype high fidelity. Both what was shown in the instruction and live class, and with just tinkering. I really like how similar Adobe products are and how easy they make it to pick up, despite Adobe XD's interface not being user friendly - in my ironic opinion.

Week Two Assignment

For this week I had to look at what I had and what I didn't. What I wanted out of the prototype and what was missing. I noticed I had an account link but no account page, so I made that. I further expanded the steps in uploading a document and viewing grades so it gave an idea of what would happen after uploading a document.

I also expanded the colors and branding of the fake university I made and even gave it a logo! I also attempted to brand the actual assignment part and gave it the name of "EDU Online", UU University's course management system. This go I wanted to incorporate some of the things we were shown like overlays and transitions.

UU University logo
UU Universtiy branding colors.

Once I did that, I went through and added the gradients, retooled the menu bar. I also redid the course menu to make it cleaner - in my opinion - and made links easier to distinguish by giving them an underline and color treatment. I only ended up using mostly blue with minimal orange and green. I wanted to use more colors but I didn't want to risk legibility or sacrifice the clean look I already had.

Once I was finished, I sent the prototype to a few friends of mine in hopes that one of them would record them selves using the prototype and give me feedback on what needs improvement. Here is what that looked like:

What I noticed immediately - that I didn't think about because I'm used to designing print material - is that the blue text were always assumed to be links. So any blue text that wasn't a link got confusing and made the person feel like they were running in circles.

I took this information and reworked the color of the links and the color of things in general to make it much more apparent what was and wasn't a link. I also took the time to change the interactions of buttons a little bit by creating a drop down menu so I could combine the edit account and logout button in a seamless way. I also went and made the action of uploading a file more fleshed out and I think it turned out really well.

Final Reflection

Despite joining rather late and playing massive catch-up, I really enjoyed the intensity (perhaps my own doing, who knows) and experimental nature of this course. It very much reminded me of the video I watched at the beginning of the course where a team was challenged with redesigning the shopping cart. That chaotic yet creative space of building and tearing down and reshaping was very much my experience with my prototype.

What I've learned during this course , other than how to use Adobe XD, was really how to be okay with the iterative process. As a graphic designer I use some form of an iterative process, but its more design thinking than design experimentation and feedback. This course really forced me to have to be okay with it being not perfect, maybe even bad, the first time. I think really working the iterative process allowed me to be okay with reinventing and scrapping ideas and improving upon them which is something I definitely had issues with, especially when designing web sites.

Being a student in this course felt easy partly because XD is so easy to pick up and doesn't have that intimidating nature that photoshop or illustrator does at first glance. I also think the focus on developing and improving upon, and not having it perfect first go, really pushed the idea of experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn't. That made the course fun and interesting with this idea of problem solving in a way that encouraged thinking outside the box.

There really wasn't anything that didn't work for me in this course. I think it was constructed well and I think that others left some very good feedback on their peers work. There was definitely a community around assisting others in improving their own work in a way that -despite being a general critique - didn't have the feeling of a normal critique. I guess it felt more collaborative than as if it were a presentation, if that makes sense. I really loved that aspect.

The most difficult part of this course was getting used to using Adobe XD. There were points, before I figured out how to scroll to different artboards where it felt frustrating and counter-intuitive - which is ironic for a program about UI design. The processes itself weren't difficult as it very much reminded me of general design process I go through regularly.

Going forward, I will definitely incorporate Adobe XD into my workflow and might continue to use it and see how it works in conjunction with web design processes - especially since they got rid of Adobe Muse. I thought about how I could incorporate it into the classroom, but I don't really teach any courses that focus on UX Design or where UX Design would be appropriate. BUT I can see it being exceptionally useful to teach the idea of iterative design and improving upon things. It was really helpful for me of getting out of that mindset of everything MUST be perfect before anyone sees it and just enjoying the process and collaborative effort involved. I think the speed at which I took the course also helped with that as I was really unable to spend more time tweaking small things and being as tedious as I could be. The prototype I have now - in my opinion - could use a lot of work BUT I think it's an excellent beginning and it's interesting to see how different the choices I ended up with are different from the choices I sketched.


Created with images by Harpal Singh - "Icon Design"

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