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A peek into the past!

Hello! You’re looking at an archive of my UX1 course that I teach at SVC UX1. This captures the first iteration of my slides, readings, and approach.

However, this is just an archive. I stopped maintaining a course website. Like any true UXer, I am constantly iterating based on data; using analytics and in-class feedback, I found that my students NEVER, NEVER, EVER used the course website. Instead, it was most effective to email them a week before each session with readings and homework, and again after session with a link to the deck and photos of any groupwork done in class.

And of course, every time I taught this course, I ripped it apart and restructured it, updated readings, created new studio problems, and introduced new pedagogical methods.

Out of date as it may be, though, this archive does hint at my overall approach to UX and framework for teaching and mentorship. Perhaps it will be of use to you.

Session 1: What is “Doing UX”?

Every week I compile resources for our session. These might be blog posts, articles, YouTube videos. They are meant to be quick reads to provide context for what we’re going to learn, and they’re always listed in priority order. If you don’t have much time, start with the first item in each bucket.

What’s user experience and why does it matter?

Your 5 Minute Guide to UX from Squarespace and MailChimp
You are Not Your User 52 Weeks of UX
The ROI of User Experience  (YouTube video)

What does user experience look like in the real world?

Case Study: Boxee Redesign Whitney Hess
How this app creator used UXD to cook up a top-selling app Startup Smart
What is UX? Smashing Magazine

Interviewing 101

Brandon Stanton – On How I Approach Strangers in the Street (YouTube video)
Interviewing Users presentation from Steve Pordigal
Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights Steve Pordigal (book)

Session slides

Write-in request: Breaking into the UX field

I got a write-in request to share how to break into UX, and I know several of you are wondering the same thing. I’ll talk about my experiences and my point of view tonight. In the meantime, here are some reading materials to get you started in the right direction.

Here’s an example of a portfolio in action: mine. I’ll walk through it and talk about its various strengths and weaknesses. http://leanna-gingras.squarespace.com/

Edit: Lecture slides including some insight into my entry to UX and usage stats of my portfolio site are up.

Week 5: Measuring UX

Hello! Welcome to our last week of class. We’ll start off our class by sharing our projects. If you have a project you’ve been working on, or if you have iterations of our in-class apps, please plan to share it with us! Email me if there’s any materials I need to load in advance, such as URLs to prototypes.

We’ll then look at ways to measure UX, whether that’s by user research and usability testing or by remote research and metrics. Your homework is to send me a real-life example of how to measure measure success. For example, think back to our discussion of the Seattle Public Library. Success could be measured by how many people visit every day, how effective it is as a community space, changes in revenue reported by neighboring businesses, or how effective it is at letting you curl up in a corner with a book.

Here’s this week’s resource list! This just scratches the surface, and as usual, if you’re pressed for time, start at the top of each category and then work your way down.

Evangelizing UX

User Research


Slides are here. Note: I changed the lecture up to accommodate some conversation and advice on breaking into the UX field.

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POP prototypes from our working session!

We had a great working session in last night’s class. I put a couple of bite-size problems up on the board and issued a challenge: go from concept to paper prototypes in 90 minutes. The small groups worked through it by picking a concept direction and fleshing out a scenario, breaking it down into steps, sketching out solutions and creating paper prototype screens. Finally, they used the POP app to link everything together.

I’m very pleased and delighted with what the students have done! Take a look at the problems and the corresponding POP prototypes below.

Jessie wants to be able to do 100 pushups a day. She can only do 10 now, but she’ll work on it.

PushyMon (Bryan, April, Selena): This game turns push-ups into an RPG game, challenging you to fight monsters and unlock achievements. The app counts push-ups by having you put your phone on your back while you do them.

Push App (Kayvon, Colleen): This app enables you to challenge your Facebook friends to push-up competitions. To ensure that you’re doing real push-ups, each push-up is counted by touching your nose to the phone.

Pushups (Daria, Marina, Chuong): This exercise app lets you specify what your push-up goals are and when you want to achieve them, and then motivates you with social leaderboards, videos, and progress visualizations.

Lisa works at her computer all day and needs to take a few seconds every 10 minutes to sit up straight.

My Alerts (Pamela, Joybroto, Tom): This app helps you form better habits with alerts. You set goals, such as posture or drinking water, and configure how often you want to be reminded.

It was only fair that I eat my own dog food, so in advance of the class I had done a first iteration of a paper prototype and recorded a couple of guerrilla usability tests. This gave me *ahem* ample material to work on a v2.

Lee wants a fast way to track her food. She doesn’t want to count calories, just to know whether she’s generally eating healthy. 

v1 – 93 Stars

Guerrilla usability test of 93 stars #1, #2

v2 – 93 Smiles

Week 4: Prototyping and Guerilla Usability Testing

It’s week 4 and we’re going to dive into the basics of prototyping! And since a good prototype always has a purpose, we’re going to dip our toe into guerrilla usability testing and learn just enough to understand what we need to prototype.

As usual, if you can’t read everything here, start from the top of each category and work your way down.


The below prototyping tools list is not required reading, but is rather a collection of resources and tools. The principles of prototyping can be applied with any tool, but for our studio we’ll use the iPhone app POP because it’s simple enough to get us up and running during a class session.

Prototyping tools

Guerilla Usability Testing


Week 3: Sketching and User-Centered Design

Hello! At week 3, we’re getting into some real meat-and-potatoes stuff: good design, brainstorming, and the art of collaboration.

Be ready to do a lot of sketching! All you need is a notebook and a pen (not a pencil!). If you want to get fancy, you can print out 10-20 pages of the attached 6up sketching template, but make sure you also bring a notebook just in case.

Resources for this week’s topics are below. If you’re short on time, start by reading the first article in each topic.

Critique and collaboration


User-Centered Design

Design Principles

See you Thursday!

Edit: Slides are up!

Week 2: The 1000 Foot View

This week is all about looking at the problem space from 1000 feet up. Starting with the big picture makes it much easier to create a user experience that hangs together and make sense.

Paper airplanes

We’ll learn how to collaboratively analyze interview data to pick out patterns. Then we’re going to take a look at a few of the tricks in the UX toolbox for mapping, storytelling, and painting the broader picture.

There’s a lot of great examples and approaches on these topics, so this week’s resource list is long. If you only have a little time to read up this week, start with the first article listed in each section.

Making sense of interview data

The 1000-foot view




Edit: Slides are now available!

Week 1: Introduction, process and interviewing

Every week, I’ll compile some resources related to our topic. These might be blog posts, articles or YouTube videos. They are meant to be quick reads to provide context for what we’re going to learn, but I’ll also provide book recommendations for deep diving into a topic.

This class will take a hands-on approach, so think of a project you can work on throughout the course. This can be something you’re trying to design at work, an iPhone app, or a website you really wish didn’t suck – whatever problem needs solving.


What’s user experience and why does it matter?

What does user experience look like in the real world?

Interviewing 101

Edit: Lecture slides are now available.

Welcome to the User Experience 1 course!

This is the class site for my User Experience 1 course at the School for Visual Concepts in Seattle. This is where I’ll put up resources, slides and audio. For now, here’s a bit more about the course.

How do you create compelling, engaging products that people love? How can user-centered design techniques make your products better? The key to creating good user experiences is understanding how users tick and using those insights to make informed design decisions.
This course will teach you the process of translating user insights to create intuitive, easy-to-use products. You’ll learn how to discover what your users need, what their goals are, and what motivates them. This will enable you to prioritize features, improve usability, and solve complex problems. You’ll learn how to brainstorm effective solutions and use sketches and prototypes to communicate and iterate on your ideas. Finally, you’ll learn how to evaluate your ideas and find actionable ways to improve your product.

Puzzle with pieces forced into the wrong slots

You’ll learn the core methods of user experience through readings and lectures, practice them with in-class groups, and apply them with projects and take-home exercises.
Research and discovery
Ideating and concepting
User-centered design

You should take this class if you want to learn how user experience principles can help you make excellent, engaging and focused products. You should definitely take this class if you want hands-on experience sketching, working in teams, and presenting design visions!

Please note that this section of the course syllabus is subject to change throughout the course. The online syllabus will not necessarily be updated with changes once the course begins. Please refer to course handouts for the most current assignment details.

User experience is a hands-on discipline, so this is a hands-on class. You’ll be introduced to the fundamentals of UX through readings, lectures and in-class exercises, and you’ll also apply your learning to a project of your own choosing. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, talk to users, brainstorm, and sketch!

Week 1: Introduction, process and interviewing
what is UX? what does “doing UX” look like?

Week 2: Analysis and workflows
how do we use our interview insights?

Week 3: User-centered design techniques
how do we go from workflows to good designs?

Week 4: Prototyping and guerilla testing
how do we communicate and test design?

Week 5: Measuring UX
how do we measure UX impact and make UX actionable?