Discovering UX Academy – Jacopo Maio

Discovering the UX Academy Course

Looking for a good UX course in London isn’t so easy these days. The city gives us too much choice and if you google it, you’ll be lost! This is because every course is different in length, structure, content and price.

When I was looking for a UX Course in London, I was mainly concerned about the length of the course and its content. I wanted something short, professional and innovative.

During my search, UX Academy presented itself as the only course with specific information about timing, teachers and contents. In order to know more about it, I emailed Naveed, the head of the course, about its structure and other features. He was very quick to reply with a detailed brochure and some examples of final projects done by past students. Quite good for a six week course!

After a few other emails to Naveed and other course’s directors, I finally decided to join the UX Academy.

Starting the Intermediate UX Course

The course is structured into six lessons, one for every week of the course. Each lesson is a part of the new design process called Google Design Sprint, created by Google in 2010. It is essentially a five day process to answer critical questions, rapidly prototyping and user testing. Trust me it works!

I was really surprised by how much work I have completed in a such a short amount of time. This is because of the structure of the design process. The process allows you to focus on the possible problems and solutions in a very efficient way.

Froso Ellina headed the first two lessons. Froso is an experienced UX designer who has been working in the digital industry for many years. She explained to us that throughout the length of the course we were going to work in groups of three and develop a UX Project using the Google Design Sprint methodology.

Working in groups is pivotal to someone without experience and a lack of real projects on his/her portfolio. It teaches you to share, understand and develop some soft skills such as being an effective communicator and a thorough listener to different points of view.

Froso guided us through the first steps of the design process. These were mainly around research and understanding the problems of possible users engaging with a product or service. Each group had different projects which different users, needs, problems and solutions.

We all had to provide feedback on the other groups’ projects and, most of them were very useful, posing good questions to our problems.

Developing our Project

Jiri, our second lecturer, as well a professional UX Design with years of experience, led the development stage. He helped us to implement our ideas to tackle the user’s problems, then developing the prototype and test.

While struggling a bit during this phase, I came to un understanding that effective teamwork is critical to problem-solving. As a team, we managed to tackle the user’s problems by combining different, complementary points of view.

We were also asked to create a prototype to let the user testing start. Before this course, I thought that making a prototype would be the hardest part of the process. But it’s actually while the users are testing your product or service. That is the really hard phase.

Leading a User Testing requires a lot of experience and a team of more than one; one who asks questions, and another who takes notes. Despite being a good team, none of us had ever done a User Testing before. It was quite satisfying actually seeing some improvement after the first interview.

During this phase, I learnt that the key for running a successful interview is preparation. This meant asking the right questions and of course having a decent prototype.

The course came to an end with a final presentation of the project. Starting from the initial research to the final results, from the possible problems the solutions, difficulties and ideas.

The lecturers also explained how to improve/create/structure our portfolio. This is essential for someone who took this course to enrich his/her portfolio with a new methodology and a new project.

TL:DR/Final Thoughts

I strongly suggest this course to anyone who wants to learn the Google Design Sprint. It is really useful in terms of developing personal and soft skills. Furthermore, it can be an alternative for someone who doesn’t have time to do a long course as lectures start conveniently after 6pm. Lastly, when compared to other UX courses in London, the price is quite competitive.

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