Leveraging Feedback: An Urban Planner's Journey to UX Design

What were the key takeaways from your website design review?  How might these affect your approach or path forward?

Photo Credit: Zazzle.com

Photo Credit: Zazzle.com

Building a portfolio for the right audience

This week our guest speaker Soo Moon, an experienced product and UX designer, led a group design review to critique the websites that we've been building. The key takeaway from my review is that I need to refine and clarify the message I am trying to send to potential employers with my portfolio website.

Photo Credit: Leadership Unleashed

Photo Credit: Leadership Unleashed

Because I’m an Urban Designer trying to transition into a career in User Experience (UX) design, the initial goal of my site was to present all of my urban design work, learning HTML and CSS along the way. However, during the review, it was suggested that instead of simply showcasing past projects, I should present them in a different way to convey a more UX focused message. 

As the design process and problem solving skills used in both fields are very similar, the new goal of my site is to present my past work in a way that emphasizes the idea that Urban Design is User Experience in the physical space, and UX design is user experience in the digital space. In the beginning, It never occurred to me to tell the story of the projects from a UX perspective as well as an Urban Design one. As usual, coming to class every week provides me with unique insight, new ideas, and increases my confidence.

Demonstrating Competency

One of the main challenges I face in moving into UX is that I need to show new projects in my portfolio that demonstrate those skills, and so far I only have one. A couple of months ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone to participate in Neohack 2014, a hackathon sponsored by Girl Develop It and Macy’s, where I helped my team win the ‘Style Award’. Using Macy's API, I helped our team design an app called “Macy's Events”, which enabled users to shop on Macy's site by searching for products organized by events (e.g., birthday party, Valentine's Day, hackathon etc.) This was particularly thrilling for me because I wire-framed the site, created the page layout, developed a storyboard, designed a new logo for the app, Photoshop-ed images, coded HTML+CSS, and did the final presentation at the end.

Leveraging learnings

Recently, I was accepted into General Assembly’s UX Design Immersive program, which will begin in 2015.  Although my strong design background played a part in my acceptance, I have to give MotherCoders a lot of the credit. The first few weeks of the program gave me new knowledge and insight into the tech world, which I was able to leverage while answering interview questions and completing the pre-interview homework.

When I started the program, I was unsure about where I wanted my career to go, especially since I really love Urban Design. Now I feel that I am really on my way. Although the possibilities are vast, as a UX designer I hope that I will be able to contribute my skills to companies, organizations, and municipalities that are dealing with a lot of the issues that were important in Urban Design, such as sustainability and transportation.

You can find Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_voisin.