This is the story of how I transitioned from Product Designer to Lead Teacher while keeping my designer hat all along the way.

An Illustrationby Adam Niklewicz showing a woman going back to school
An Illustrationby Adam Niklewicz showing a woman going back to school
© Illustration: Adam Niklewicz

I may be a teacher, but I’m still a designer

“Don’t you miss design?” This is the question I get the most from students. To them, I’m just their teacher. But to me, I’m still a designer. My students, they don’t see what happens behind the scene. They don’t see the amount of work that makes this Bootcamp a life-changing experience. They don’t see the research. They don’t see the ideation sessions. They don’t see the testing either.

After teaching Product Design for two years, I do not feel like I have ever left Design. This has nothing to do with the fact that Design is all I talk about. It’s just that I am designing something different here. Not a digital, nor a physical product. I am designing a service. I create a curriculum. I imagine a classroom experience. I build new ways of delivering knowledge. I design a learning experience; the learning experience of learning Product Design. …


A group of people in a meeting room participating in a design workshop
A group of people in a meeting room participating in a design workshop
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

This article assumes that you are a designer taking on a new design project, like improving the usability of an interface or adding a new feature to an app. It does not matter if you are either an in-house designer or hired as a freelancer. Either way, you need to get briefed on the subject. You need to sit down with the stakeholders and let them tell you all you need to know about the project.

Usually, the smaller the company, the more likely you are to sit down face to face with one of the top people, like the founder or the CEO. In a bigger company, your interlocutor would be a Project Manager, a Program Manager, or a Product Owner. No matter what type of stakeholder you talk to, you should assume this project is their baby. …


Facebook Trust Transparency and Control Labs is teaching designers and startups to care about individual privacy.

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Illustration by Charlie Padgett

User beware, you live in interesting times.

The internet has transformed our everyday life profoundly. Technology is moving fast. We embraced the transformation it brought to our lives with open arms and got bitten in the ass for it. We adopted this new technology quickly, without considering the possible repercussions on our privacy.

In the early stages of the web 2.0, and with the emergence of social networks platforms like Facebook and Instagram or free services like Gmail, we handed a lot of information about ourselves, without understanding what we were giving away, to whom and what these new corporations were doing with it. We made the honest mistake to trust them with our data. Never in a million years did we believe that they were going to use that data to make money, to sell it to third parties or to use it to manipulate us. Moreover, we were sharing a lot of personal pieces of information in our blog posts, Facebook statuses, and tweets because, at that time, the internet seemed like a safe place to express yourself. …


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© Illustration: Adam Niklewicz

You are a designer of things

Your activity is closely linked to the Fine Arts (Architecture, Fashion…). You own a design studio or work at one. Do you care about your users? No. You are an artist. You have a huge ego. You want to leave a mark in the world. You want a legacy. You most likely have a tortured mind and wear colors and patterns that should never be associated with one another. The frames of your eyeglasses are the first thing that people notice about you. You are seen at the Venise Biennale or at Art Basel Miami.

You’re a little bitch.

You are a designer of visuals

You work at a job in the Applied Arts (Graphic designer, Webdesigner…) or Advertising. You are freelance or are working in some kind of agency. Your color is black for everything you own: your clothes, your car, your phone, your dog and your fixie bike. You eat quinoa and take coke for dessert. Do you care about your users? No, you design to manipulate the customers’ needs. You use your creativity to sell things, but your ego stops where your client’s ego begins. You can be found in cafes drinking lattes and working on your MacBook Pro. …


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© Illustration: Adam Niklewicz

The 5 users rule

Doing usability testing, you only need five users. Granted, with five users, you won’t find 100% of the usability issues existing in your product. But the high cost of having a greater number of users is, most of the time, not worth it.

I don’t know who first came up with this. All I know is Don Norman wrote about it here. Jake Knapp also incorporated this idea into the Design Sprint test protocol.

The math goes something this:
0 users = 0% issues found
1 user = 33% issues found
5 users = 80% issues found
15 users = 99% issues…


Not all facilitator are designers but it so happens that designers make excellent facilitators.

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© Illustration: Adam Niklewicz

Facilitation:

noun [ U ] UK ​ /fəˌsɪlɪˈteɪʃən/ US ​

the act of helping other people to deal with a process or reach an agreement without getting directly involved in the process or discussion yourself.

Intro

The job of the facilitator is to help a group of people (sometimes an individual) reach an agreement or a solution for a problem they share. The problem can be of some importance to you, especially if you are the designer on the project as well as the facilitator. Not all facilitators are designers, but it so happens that designers make excellent facilitators.

Beside the Facilitator role, the three principal characters in a Workshop…


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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Everybody lies on their resume. It’s not a big deal. I’ve done it. And I’m sure you’ve done it too. You add an extra month or two to your previous job position so that your four months vacation to Bali does not appear on your CV. Or you mention that your team worked with the Agile Methodology when really, you were only doing Daily Stand-ups in the morning and had no idea what a 2 weeks Sprint was.

So yes, everybody lies on their resume. But today, I thought it would be a good idea to actually tell the truth. …


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Pen & paper is still the preferred tool for brainstorming and ideation. I started using pen & paper for designing my wireframes precisely at the same time as the market for wireframing app started booming. Sketch was ruling like a king, Adobe XD price was going back to free, Figma was launching their third major release and InVision was announcing the upcoming InVision Studio app.

Choosing pen & paper over a sexy app can seem like a strange choice. Especially in such exciting times, right? Well, not really. The company I was working for, didn’t allow us to use Mac machines on their network, was against using cloud-based solutions, and already had an Adobe license for each UX designer. …


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Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Design to simplify your life, but for real.

Every new piece of technology that is supposed simplify our lives, ends up generating as many problems as it solves. I believe UX design is here to anticipates those problems and fix them before they even appear.

But UX is not solely about design

It’s about research and it’s about testing. Research, design, test. In that order. The three are equally important. When hiring, you should not look for a “UX Designer” but for a “UX Researcher/Designer/Tester”. Or as I call it, a “UX ReDeTe”. I think it can become a thing.

UX designers should know code

Beware I did not say they should know “HOW TO code”. UX designers are not developers. But they should know the principles that revolve around coding. I believe that, as UX designers, we design for two users: the end-user of the product and the developer who will code said product. …


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This is a summary of how I conducted the first of several design sprints.

The tl;dr

  • Design Sprints are awesome
  • I learned how to organize my first sprint from scratch
  • I led several other sprints after that
  • Apart from the Facilitator role, I also led the tests interviews

The context

Our methodology was failing. It was strange because everything was made for us to succeed. Or so we thought.

We had a simple assignment: rethink the current shopping experience of the CRM tool of a telecommunication company. We had the resources: 2 UX designers on the job. We had a (very tight) deadline: four weeks to get a prototype running. …

About

Jeremie Douchet

UXUI Design Teacher at Ironhack.

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