fffunction UX workshop: Sam's experiences

Written by: Sam Stephenson On: 5 Oct 2016 In: User experience

This is a guest post by Sam Stephenson who attended a UX workshop lead by fffunction at Falmouth University in 2015. Sam writes about the workshop and where what he learned took him.

I’m Sam, a new graduate from Falmouth University’s Graphic Design BA.

About a year ago, I had the chance to partake in a UX design workshop run by Dan and James from fffunction and Adam from Brewbot. I’ve long been into playing with digital products – thinking about how people interact with things and using design to shape those interactions. This was a chance really get to know the process, from folks who work with it every day.

Over three sessions of the workshop we covered the basics of user research, empathy mapping, personas, information architecture and testing and the overall UX process. The importance of testing ideas early was an important thing to learn and apply. Designing outwards from the specific needs of your user, rather than imposing your design upon them, using post-its to figure out information architecture in low-fidelity. Focus on the organisation of information first, before you are slowed down by visual design decisions.

UX workshop at Falmouth University

I loved it, and wanted more. Following the workshop, I embarked on an app design project which aimed to help friends with the pain of splitting bills and tracking who owes who what. I called it Seesaw.

Seesaw

It was an opportunity to put all I’d learned in the workshop into practice. Interviewing potential users, empathy mapping and drawing up personas. I worked on the project through most of my final year at uni, you can find a detailed case study here.

I knew pretty soon I wanted to do more of this, so started looking for internships in UX design. While showing my portfolio around Seesaw was the project I leaned on and talked about the most. It helped find me interviews with a big tech company in Silicon Valley and interest from studios at the D&AD’s New Blood. After chasing a bunch of applications one finally came good and I’m now interning as an Experience designer at NewDealDesign, in San Francisco!

Golden Gate Bridge

Some of the good feedback received along the way, from peers and in interviews, focused on my UX process – user research, empathy mapping, personas, IA etc. All stuff picked up and carried out from those mornings in September. I’m indebted to Dan and the guys at fffunction for cramming so much good stuff into such a short few days. 

If you’re a current student reading this, I’d encourage you to put some effort into showing your process. Research, sketches etc… Take them through the depths of your thinking on a project! All that work you do to reach the end goal is important. Every interviewer I’ve come across said they loved to see that. 

Moreover, if you’re a graphic designer interested in user experience, it’s well worth dipping your toes in. Much of the process is pretty different to a graphic designer’s workflow. Most of the heavy-lifting is done in talking to people, organising information and drawing simplicity out of complexity. Skills I'm sure anyone could benefit from, whichever design career direction they choose.