General Assembly have been running a week of free lunchtime classes to celebrate the launch of their new Aldgate East campus, I dropped in to the intro to user experience (UX) session on Tuesday to find out more.

The class was run by Joe Dollar-Smirnov, Chief Experience Officer at Red Badger and it focused on what UX is and the guiding principles behind it. We started off by talking about UX as a wider concept, how conforming to expectations and guiding standards helps to make things simpler for the user. To give a real world example: by putting a light switch next to a door, we encourage the user to follow a standard convention meaning they can achieve the desired outcome with minimal effort.

Joe then went through a couple of the leading theories in the UX space and explained their definitions and how they related to day to day UX practice. For the interactive part of the session we were given Jesse James Garrett’s elements of user experience and asked to order them into what we thought should be considered first when designing a product. This was a really interesting activity and helped us get out of the visual focus which so many of us naturally fall in to when creating a product.

After talking a bit about the different ways in which UX professionals go about their day to day jobs we finished up the session with a couple of guiding principles to think about when designing user journeys:

  • Shared understanding – make sure everyone in the team understands the objectives, users and desired outcomes.
  • Rapid ideation – don’t get too attached to your ideas, if something doesn’t work move on.
  • Validated thinking – remember to justify everything you do, if you need to make assumptions think about how to rationalise them.

Good tips for any team project I think!

Thanks for General Assembly and Joe for such an insightful class, lots to think about and many practical skills which we can apply across our professional lives.