My Placement in UX
March 12, 2020

We hear from Sarah as her placement in the UX team comes to an end. From project achievements to lessons learned, we're delighted she wanted to share her journey with you here.

"As a Placement Student working in Etain, we are given the opportunity to spend our year across 3 departments in the company. This generally works out at 4 months each.

I started off in Support and when it was time for me to move on, I made a request to join the User Experience (UX) Team for my next rotation. I had dabbled with the term ‘UX’ throughout my Higher-Level courses and after a UX Module in my second year, I was hooked to find out more! What was it like to participate in an actual User Workshop with real Users as opposed to making it up for an assignment? What would they say? What would I ask? How would I ask it? What would they mean by what they say?"

My first taste of real UX

"Before I fully joined the UX team I was invited to join my colleagues at a User Testing session in Dublin for a well-known energy giant. I hadn’t even joined the team and I was working with this big company? I couldn’t believe it!

Our aim was to ask 8 current Users of the system to perform a set of Tasks to provide insights and information into how the system is used across Desktop and Mobile to guide us to make informed design decisions. Our tasks were collated from a Business to Customer (B2C) Persona we had earlier formulated with the client. You might have caught my previous blog on this very experience – if not, catch it here.

Being able to meet real users and observe how they performed the same tasks was such an eye-opening experience. Certain prejudices and speculations about how users of a certain age or profession and how easy or difficult they would find the tasks really made me think. I recall one user, a 32-year-old who I expected to be able to use the system with ease, truly struggled with some of the tasks that a user of 61 found easy to complete. Just goes to show that digital literacy is an assumption we make about younger generations every day.

I was so impressed with how important this User Testing session was because it highlighted the need for certain aspects to be considered to help the UX Team to make informed design decisions that would make a real difference for this User when using the system."

Roles

"Upon joining the UX Team I discovered the many roles and responsibilities to being a UX Designer. I was involved in preparing and delivering research presentations both internally for Etain and externally for clients, creating high level wireframes to be included in tender applications for UK and Irish enterprise, delivering presentations to clients and preparing UX and user testing workshops.

I got the opportunity to present our findings from a User Testing session to the stakeholders of a well-known energy provider in their HQ. I felt so honoured to have this opportunity as a Placement Student representing Etain to one of their established clients!

Within Etain and the UX Team we were always eager to keep on top of recent UX topics such as new and improved workshop techniques, latest software trends for creating high fidelity wireframes and prototypes, as well as ensuring that we were maintaining the best practice for UX/ UI across all of our work. This is a responsibility that I felt my team took seriously as it is important to allow us to perform the best UX that we can through our work with clients, in workshops, wireframes, design systems and internally at Etain."

Favourite Work

"My first project using UXPin was for a well-known, international engineering firm and it was a massive learning curve for me. I had the guidance of my colleagues to help me identify the correct process to create a wireframe from a design brief, that would be used in a proposal. I learned so much and really enjoyed working with such an iconic and well-known brand to present a design that was brand representative and respected their cultural and historical legacy. And to top it all off, it provided me with a great wireframe for my working Portfolio.
 
I was involved in another project for a local Government organisation where I was again provided with a design brief and had to create a wireframe for a tender application. I really enjoyed this project as it was challenging to incorporate the designs so that there was a seamless transition between the current site, and this would be external HTML page and in a design sense there was an evolution in quality in my design. I really enjoyed this challenge as well as the collaboration between my colleagues which really enlightened and encouraged me to make a great wireframe that I am really proud of. I even showed it to my Mum I was that proud! The cherry on the cake? We won the tender and the project has already kicked off!"

Passionate Team

"As a team I could feel the passion and respect for the world of UX from my colleagues. We would discuss new and interesting things we had discovered in our spare time or the day before, recommended books to read and articles to check out, recommended and headed to UX talks held locally, read the latest issues UX and Front End magazines and keep up to date with online training and recommending courses.

Being a member of this team further sparked my interest in the world of UX and I continue my interest as I move into another department and in my spare time. I follow UX influencers on Twitter, and in my spare time I continue to use UX software for personal projects and my portfolio. I’ll also be keeping a look out for more talks and meetups. I want to keep learning more! Give me all of the UX!"

Importance of UX

"UX. Why do we use it? The one thing that I have learned and remind myself through all aspects of my work (not just UX but across different departments and in my personal projects) is “make informed design decisions.”. I learned this on my first day and I will never forget it.

We have to make informed design decisions. We need to know WHO we are designing for, WHAT they want and need to do, and HOW do they expect to do it. In many respects UX is important to all aspects of life, not just professionally in projects.

In UX we hold workshops with stakeholders to identify the Users and the Tasks for the product - who they are and what they need the product to do and how they do this. From this we create a Problem Statement which streamlines the Project scope and the Goals of the Project. Where those goals are not being met, we evaluate the adverse effect of not meeting these goals and set key performance indicators that we will use to measure success of reaching these goals. Next, we develop our Personas, we create Users that represent our main User Groups and then we perform User Testing sessions to see how these Users complete the Goals currently. From this we collate our findings and further develop our Personas. Our now more detailed Personas allow us to make informed design decisions with the Users interest in mind to allow us to design a solution fit for purpose that tailors to the Users needs keeping requirements and Accessibility in mind.

I have loved my time in UX and have learned so much that I plan to keep on learning and keep up my UX/ UI practices. I am so thankful for the guidance and support from Andy, Joe and Darryl in my time here and have been supplied with an immaculate set of resources and training materials.
And remember, make informed design decisions!"

 

Sarah Taylor

Bob Beck

Placement Student
UX Enthusiast

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