Interview with a Recent RED Academy UX Design Graduate

My good friend Chloe Hunt who I went to university with recently completed the UX Designer Foundation course at RED Academy in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Having gone to a web development bootcamp, I really appreciate the value that these short term immersive types of education can provide. I learned more hands on skills in 2 months than I did in four years of university. Not to say I didn’t love my degree, I just found myself graduating without any solid skill set outside of research and writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if these sorts of bootcamp style private education programs become more popular across most industries and fields. The program at RED is 10 weeks long and provides students with a foundation in UX design and hands on skills taught by professionals in the field. This is an interview with Chloe about her experience for anyone curious about the program.

What is your background, and why did you decide to go to RED Academy?

I did my degree in Psychology and then went into marketing. At the time it seemed like the next logical step because I was really interested in consumer psyc. After 2 years in marketing I wasn’t as excited about the industry as I was when I graduated and that’s when I found UX Design, the perfect mix of psychology and design!

What was a day in the program like?

Every day is different but that’s the fun! It usually starts with a few hours of lessons and then workshop time.

What were some of your instructors backgrounds/specialties?

We had 4 instructors in my program, each with a wealth of experience and knowledge in UX and a wide range backgrounds. For example one instructor who had just moved over from the UK was amazing with Typography but also went deep into the subject of dark patterns and how detrimental they are to good UX. Another was really into research and data interpretation and always getting excited about affinity diagrams.

Can you describe a project you worked on and tools you used?

We worked on 2 community partner projects at RED, one of which was for a environmental education program. Our task was to create a marketing site for them and the main challenge was the information architecture as there were 3 separate users. For this project we did a big content audit of the site and then produced flows based on that information. We also did a big customer journey map based on our user research – this really helped us identify pain points for the user. For wireframing we used Sketch and Invision for prototyping.

You told me you got two contract positions right away, could you describe a bit about them and how you connected with them?

My first contract was with the above mentioned environmental education program. They were so happy with our work on the previous project that they reached out to us for the redesign of the actual web app platform. The second contract was with another community partner from RED, a smarthome company, who again was very happy with our work so reached out to us to do a contract. Our original task was to develop a framework for adaptable installation guides. We are now working on integrating those adaptable guides into the overall site flow which we are designing. This project was and still is very challenging as it involves a lot of logic and planning – I enjoy the brain workout!

What would be your ideal company to work for?

The most important thing to me is that I work for a company which truly values UX strategy and trusts its employees. A work environment where team members can share their ideas and grow is invaluable to me. Having dogs in the office would be pretty awesome as well!

Which parts of UXD are you most interested in?

I’m in love with UX Strategy, specifically user research. It could just be my background in psyc, but something about getting to the route of user behavior makes me really excited. Data driven design is so important and can’t be accomplished without solid user research and a lot of planning!