Gene Steratore


7 Weeks and Back to School

Week 1

Fall 2017

Wow. Since I graduated with my Bachelor’s in 2013, I have always thought about going back to school. Its surreal that I have just started my Master of Science program in UX Design at my alma mater Kent State. This first week has been so enlightening and interesting, and reading about Human Centered Design (HCD) and habituation has consumed me for the last few days.

Watching this discussion by Tony Fadell really lit a fire in me to pay more attention to the little things. According to Tony, to be successful in design you must be able to identify the problems that are overlooked by everyday users and address them. He references how successful Jerry Seinfield was in comedy because of this attention to detail and how directly applicable to the design field this idea is.

Another example mentioned was the shipping of technology products with fully charged batteries. Prior to this idea (which Apple came up with during his tenure) a user was required to charge before using their new, shiny purchase. As a frequent buyer of the newest technologies, this was a change that I noticed. As other companies followed suit, its amazing how this little change has become second nature.

Week 2

In this week, I dedicated a lot of time towards the readings. My fiance’ and I used these opportunities to discuss the cross-over between my area of study and hers (she is in the 3rd year of an Engineering and Public Policy PHD program at Carnegie Mellon).

What stood out to me was the amount of cross-over, as it was very significant. The psychology behind User Experience Design is what intrigues me most. The more I read about UX Design, the more intrigued I am becoming from a research perspective. The emphasis put on how a user reacts to a product, as opposed to how the product reacts to the user really stood out to me as well.

On a side note, Don Norman’s writing style is also very easy to read, which makes the significant amount of reading exciting. As my classes continue, I can’t wait to apply this invaluable knowledge in the work environment.

Week 3

This week was my favorite in the program thus far. Getting to redesign a dialog box was excellent, although I wish it was in Axure/Sketch as my writing/drawing ability is sub-par.

I saw some great pins from my classmates (see Brad’s below) and appreciated the readings emphasis on clarity. The readings talked a lot about how we read things, what users are conditioned to think and information should be displayed to them (Keep It Simple Stupid).

If I had to pick one aspect of the week that I liked the most, it was the emphasis on clarity. I think that content creators can get consumed with making something graphic-heavy, provide complicated instructions and lose sight of what the end-user is seeing, as opposed to what the trained designer eye sees. Its something I will definitely keep in mind as I pursue a career as a designer.

Week 4

This week was challenging. I hit some mental roadblocks but managed to create a decent workflow for our assignment. I can’t even imagine how many times I wiped my dry erase board before I even put pen to paper.

With the reading this week, I definitely understand that I need to be much better at segmenting my workload when designing.

If I had to pick one aspect of the week that I liked the most, it was honestly feeling that challenge in the assignment. I want to be challenged every day. I want to not know the answer, to feel lost for a little and to try things that make me uncomfortable at the on-set.

Week 5

I was really looking forward to the “Design” week in this class and it did not disappoint. The assignment was pretty simple but definitely useful. Its easy to say “I hate *insert website name*”. Its another thing to actually realize why you have distaste for it and what changes (no matter how little) could be done to change that opinion.

The reading was pretty consistent with principles I have had to apply in my jobs thus far in my career and with my UX interview a few days behind me, a lot of the content was fresh in my mind.

I am looking forward to next week’s Typography segment!

Week 6

This week was solely about Typography. This was a big week for me because I have pretty significant Web Design experience, but limited UX experience. Learning about Typography, the difference between a type-face and font is all new to me and enlightening. I am so used to making projects where something “looks” nice, without having actual evidence behind “why” it looks nice.

The below video is so well made that I linked it so I do not lose it. This guy put 140 hours into this awesome animation and he beautifully lays out Typography and is history.

These specific focuses on subjects (like Typography) are what is going to land me the job that I want in this field.

Week 7

This week focused on creating a UXD persona. I enjoyed this week the most (I am apparently going to need to get used to saying this) and was happy I got to complete an assignment in Axure!

I learned a lot about Axure too and was surprised how user friendly it was for this assignment. I used some co-workers and family members for feedback on the design and I was very pleased with the end result.

This class was a perfect introduction into UX and I can’t express enough how this was exactly what I needed. I was surprised with how much fun the class was and can’t wait for the next one.

Gene Steratore