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  • Writer's pictureKayla Dugas

My First Week as a UX Design Student at Lambda School

Week one of UX Design at Lambda School is complete! It was a really great week and I learned so much. Our overall focus was on UX Fundamentals. The information was exciting for me because I’m new to this field, so I appreciate that we began with very basic concepts.

Learning to Learn

The first class started with introductions from our UX Design instructor. He gave an overview of what Lambda School expected out of us as students, as well as what should be expected from Lambda School. We then jumped right into learning how to define UX. I hadn’t actually thought about it in-depth but everything around me has been designed. All things and all experiences are designed. Isn’t that wild? UX isn’t just limited to apps, websites, and technology; it applies everywhere. It encompasses a product or service’s entire experience, not just the product or service itself.

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service — from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” -Don Norman

Next, I learned about careers within UX. I’m studying UX Design, but there are other specialized options within this field. Some include UX Strategist/Analyst, UX Writer, and even the rare and truly magical “Unicorn”, which is a UX generalist who can basically do everything. UX isn’t the kind of job that’s the same across the board. One factor that can impact the type of work a UX Designer is doing is the size of the company itself. At a small startup, a UX Designer will probably be involved in solving a variety of problems, whereas at a large corporation the work will likely be more specialized. Where the UX Designer is at within the design cycle also impacts their daily tasks. If the designer is at the beginning of the cycle, they’ll likely be focused on research and defining problems. Later in the cycle, they’ll be testing and refining. There are a lot of things that can influence what a UX Designer does, but those are the two biggest influences.

While UX isn’t necessarily a “new” field, there are a lot of sub-roles within it that can lead to some misconceptions. I learned that User Interface (UI) is the way a user and computer can interact. It’s only a fraction of the overall experience. The next misconception that was covered was Customer Experience (CX). It’s any possible experience that a customer can have with a brand or company. UX is a subset of CX. Lastly, Product Management was covered. UX Designers and PMs share a lot of the same responsibilities like understanding user needs, solving those needs, and bringing new features and products to market. I was most familiar with Product Management because I originally wanted to be a Product Owner.

(You can read more about my journey of what lead me to Lambda School hereand also a more detailed description of common UX misconceptions here.)

The last thing that was covered this week was developing a UX mindset. I learned that the foundational pillars of having a UX mindset are empathy, curiosity, and having a user-first focus. Having empathy allows UX Designers to truly place themselves in a user’s shoes. Feel what they feel and genuinely try to understand their frustrations. Always asking “why?” will help the UX Designer dig deeper into finding out what a user actually needs. It’s also important for the UX Designer to remember that they’re designing for the user and not themselves. Those three qualities can really drive a UX Designer to create products that people want, love, and need.

Go Beyond

Educating an organization about user experience is critical to them understanding the value of it. It’s also beneficial for myself as a future UX Designer to be able to explain what I’ll be doing to people who are unfamiliar with it. It helps me better understand what I’m doing, enables me to have empathy to better explain myself, and teaches something new to someone else. My assignment yesterday was to do just that, so I talked about user experience with my grandma. I know her well enough to know that explaining something that seemed technological would intimidate and confuse her. I began by asking her what she thought UX was, conducting user research with her, and then explained how what we did related to user experience. She was then able to better grasp what UX is. It was a really great, hands-on project, as most of my assignments have been so far. Some have included writing blog posts on Medium, creating a Unique Value Position (UVP) for myself, and getting more involved in the UX community.

Eye on the Prize

Based off of my first week at Lambda School, I’m super excited for the next several months! It’s all online, but a lot more interactive than I expected. The instructor and Project Managers are all very helpful and encourage us to ask questions. They’re open to all feedback about personal progress, the course itself, and Lambda School as a whole. The Lambda School student community is welcoming to people at all skill levels. I’m really happy that I made the decision to begin studying UX Design as a Lambda School student.

If you have any feedback or questions about Lambda School, please leave a comment below! Also, feel free to contact me on social media:

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