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From Student to TA, read about Jacquie Wortley’s story. Find out more about our User Experience Design Immersive course here.

“There’s something there…”

Our lead instructor Brad leans back from my laptop after peering over my shoulder for a closer look. It’s week 8, and my classmates and I are manically working away at our final projects on Sketch, a design software made specifically for UX/UI designers.

I ask Brad what he thinks I need to fix, and with his guidance, we conduct a small user-test on the marketing website for my application. Dissecting everything from font size, placement, and some very awkward buttons, I set back to work on what is likely my 10th iteration of this specific page. I groan at the thought of focusing on this same page again but then I remember why I’m here: I really love design.

My path into the User Design Experience Immersive wasn’t a simple one. My background before the course was a B.A. in Media and Communications. After this degree I took the obvious route and became a tour guide in in Asia, then after two years found myself back in Vancouver with little direction. I decided to take the leap from Vancouver to Toronto, and found myself in the classic young adult scenario: What am I going to do with my life? Trying to keep myself busy, I ended up signing up for something called UX Design at BrainStation. Honestly I really had no idea what UX Design was, but it sounded cool and it was only part-time so I was in!

After 10 weeks of the part time course, the design bug had started to hit. I had heard that BrainStation would be offering a 10 week immersive version of the course I had just completed. Full time was a big commitment though, it meant quitting my job and getting serious about making a career shift. I’d really enjoyed the part-time, but I knew that 30 hours of education can’t really compare to 400 so I took a leap and registered for UXI.

After only the first week, I felt really confident in my decision to take this course. Our educators, Brad and Sam, were working professionals from a digital agency called Konrad Group. Within four days of class, through their guidance and software expertise, our class came up with app ideas, conducted research and user testing, built wireframes, tested again, and presented our small group projects to the class. The concept was called a Design Sprint, which is a popular methodology of tackling problems used across the tech/startup industry.

Over the next 4 weeks, we took a deep look into UX concepts that are currently being used by tech agencies and major companies to help improve digital products. This first chunk of the course also introduced our class to our personal projects which we would be spending the remainder of the immersive developing. I felt like I was gaining a strong understanding of human-centered design and design thinking. It was around week 5, and after our second Design Sprint, that I really started believing I could be a designer.

Weeks 6-9 were focused on UI. The class was introduced to topics ranging from Typography, to grid design, colour theory, and spacing conventions. The UX concepts we had grasped in the first half of the course were finally coming to pixel perfect life through beautiful visual design. It was really exciting not only to see how far my own project had come, but also those of my peers who had become my good friends.

Finally we reached week 10 – the day of our presentations. After weeks of research, sketching, testing, wireframing, more sketching, more testing, and more iterations, the class had completed well developed personal projects as well as a number of smaller portfolio pieces. I finally felt like a real UX/UI designer, ready to show my mobile prototype to anybody willing to see it. After the final class and that night’s Block Party, there was a buzz around the room of eager designers ready to take on the next steps in our careers.

My advice for anybody considering taking UXI: It’s a lot of work, and it will challenge you as a designer. However, if you put in the time, you have the opportunity to come out with a portfolio and a new way of seeing the world. I could not recommend the course enough for anybody who is either passionate about design, or serious about making a career shift. In the wise words of Brad, ‘there’s something there’. Take the plunge or you’ll never know what that something is.

jacquie-wortley

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