Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Reflecting on my internship

The portfolio page of DV [UX] - I had a chance to contribute to some of the projects shown here.

DV [UX] is a design firm located on Elgin Street in the Downtown area of Ottawa, Ontario. The firm provides design services such as architecture, branding and UX(user experience) design. For the last 16 months I've been an intern / junior designer, working on UX and Graphic design projects. I've had so much fun and great experiences. It's been a blast, and I've learned so much about UX design. I feel like I have access to a whole new world of design opportunities.

Research & User Testing

I feel that I've learned valuable tools for usability testing in UX design. We study various user testing methods in school, but it was fascinating to see these tools put to use in the real world. Part of my responsibilities included interpreting information from focus groups, and gaining understanding of the user needs & wants. I used this information to create rich and compelling designs that were aligned with user feedback.

In another project, I worked with the UX Interaction researcher, and helped to create the initial prototypes to be used in user testing. I provided high-fidelity mockups with some functionality for use in beta-testing. I was then able to participate in and observe beta-testing of my designs to understand how the user really perceived the interface. During this process I collected notes from the tests and user interviews, that I later used in the final project designs.

New Programs & Tools

I feel that I gained valuable skills with new programs.

I made this nifty mock-up using fireworks.
  • Fireworks - While it is not my favorite program to work with, it very useful in its own ways. My favorite aspect of this program was how easily and seamlessly I could work with both vectors and rasters in the same project. The addition of animation was great, allowing me to produce some compelling animated mockups when trying to give a client an understanding of the concept. However, the bugs in this program were occasionally very frustrating. Adobe has now discontinued the application and I don't believe it will be a major design tool for me in the future. That being said, I'm still happy to have the knowledge.
  • Flash- I'll admit I'm not a pro with flash yet. I didn't work with it as much as I'd like to, but I did have a few opportunities. I made several simple "working" hi-fidelity prototypes of widgets and menus. I learned some simple code for Actionscript 3.0 and I now have the ability to create motion animations and simple movies. With a bit more practice, I'd like to create more complex animations.

  • Balsamiq - A simple program that I really enjoy working with. It's easy to produce many clear and concise workflows very quickly. The limited visuals forced me to focus on the interactions rather than get caught up on appearance too early on in the design, and similarly allows the clients to focus on the concept as well.
  • Wordpress - I had fantastic fun creating websites with this program. During the past few months I got to work on a few small sites, including the company website, and a site for a racing team.
  • Moodle - Near the end of my work term I began working with Moodle. I didn't get to work in depth with it, as I was only present for the beginning of the project. However, learning about the LMS(Learning Management System) that is used by many institutions, including Carleton University, was pretty cool.

Design specs, Visual design and Asset production.

This knowledge is very valuable. I learned how to create pixel perfect assets and design specfications. I worked closely with developers to understand their needs and developed my ability to respond quickly to design requests. I also learned to how to create font-based assets for applications and websites using illustrator. On some projects, I worked with different visual designers and learned from their knowledge and skills. On other projects, I also the opportunity to provide visual design.

I really did enjoy my time at DV [UX].  With this experience I feel more confident. While I now feel more open to digital design (graphic, web and UX) I still really enjoy product design. I'm looking forward to seeing where my passions take me.

I'll be going into my fourth year of Industrial Design. Big projects and exciting designs await!


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