LearningFuze is launching a new part-time UI/UX Design Course at their campus in Irvine, California. We sat down with Lucy Darby, Instructor and Curriculum Designer, to find out what the UX curriculum will include (and exactly which UX tools you’ll learn), who the ideal student for the course is, and why learning HTML/CSS can help take your UX Design career to the next level!
Lucy, what's your role at LearningFuze?
I've been working with LearningFuze as a freelance designer for the past two years, and I'm now creating the curriculum for (and teaching) the UI/UX Design Course.
How did you learn UX Design?
I took an unconventional route. I started out as a Marketing Designer focusing on advertising, event campaigns, and lead generation. I eventually started dialing in on Web Design. To put it simply, I'm a multidisciplinary Designer. From landing pages to print design I can do it.
About two years ago, I took an online UX bootcamp which really solidified what I was already doing. User Experience is focused on who your user is, which obviously has a huge overlap in marketing. I was constantly identifying problems, identifying potential solutions, or ideating. I was already wireframing and prototyping. Knowing the vocabulary, having something official to put on my résumé, and examples in my portfolio with clear deliverables was what pushed me from print design into UX and web design.
So tell us about the new UI/UX Design Course at LearningFuze!
This UX design bootcamp is in-person and part-time. It's actually separated into two modules which are 12-weeks each. Students meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-9 pm and Saturday afternoons. We wanted to make sure that students who are working full-time, still going to school for a traditional degree, or have other responsibilities can come to class in-person and experience the collaborative environment while still maintaining their schedule.
What will the UI/UX design curriculum cover?
The first module is focused on the foundations of user experience design and design thinking. It will answer questions like, "What is UX Design?" and "Why is UX Design important?" It will focus on what employers are looking for when they're using the term UX Designer. At the end of the course, students will create key deliverables that they can use in their portfolios. We'll be doing exercises on job readiness and interviewing as well.
The second module is focused more on User Interface Design. This dives into visual elements, hierarchy, layout, color, typography. The course will still be carrying on with UX and UI elements in the second module, but we'll also go over coding – HTML and CSS – so that students truly know tactile practical skills. Now that they have foundational information, they'll be able to work on the execution of the project. They'll understand how to build websites and applications from a UX/UI Design perspective.
Which UX design tools students will be learning in this bootcamp?
We’ll put an emphasis on actually using the software and tools that a typical UX designer would be using. We'll be introducing students to programs like Figma, Sketch, AdobeXD, InVision, and Zeplin. Zeplin helps students understand how designers hand off their designs to developers which is important, practically, if you're working with a team. Depending on the speed at which the students are able to grasp these programs and technical skills, we may end up going over all of them or just a few.
Which coding languages are students going to learn in that second module?
Why do you think that learning to code is important for UX/UI Designers?
Even if you aren't a full stack developer, knowing how to speak and collaborate with developers is a huge advantage in the workplace. That is a gap in many existing UX bootcamps. It's incredibly valuable as a UX Designer to be able to go to meetings and collaborate with the developers and engineers and know how to speak their language. That puts you lightyears ahead of the competition. If you're only focused on design, you're unable to bridge the gap to implementation. This is the value of being able to tactically execute your designs either on your own or in a team. Employers are eager to see that. We call them "unicorns."
Who is the ideal student for this course?
You need to be curious and interested in all of the elements of design as well as the technical implementation side of design.
From a geographical standpoint, because this is an in-person class, Orange County residents are ideal. This course could be for:
Someone who has gone through LearningFuze’s Web Development bootcamp
A Web Developer who is looking to transition into a UX role
A beginner who wants to learn only UX design
It will give them a tactical hands-on experience with UX Design in the workplace and a cohesive résumé and portfolio. It's a career-oriented course.
Will you be an instructor for this course?
Yes! I will be teaching the first 12-week module and another instructor will be teaching the second 12-weeks.
What will the teaching style be? How do you learn UX Design?
Throughout the first 12-week module, the course will build up to a cumulative portfolio project. They’ll determine what their project will be within the first couple of weeks. Every week there will be a specific UX Deliverable that students complete. They're going to work on a problem that they're passionate about and build an app or website to solve that problem. By the end of every week, the student will have a key deliverable that they can put into their portfolio to prove that they understand and can implement the skill that they learned that week.
Will students be working in teams or individually?
It's mostly individual work but there is more time in the Saturday afternoon workshop sessions where students will be working in groups. They'll learn how to ideate with people and challenge each other. A lot of the projects involve take home work where the student will be doing tests on their own but there will be minimal homework.
What will go into the career curriculum?
The last two weeks will have a focus on preparing and presenting a portfolio, interview techniques, UX career advice, whiteboarding challenges, design challenges, and more. We expect students to get jobs as designers once they graduate.
What is the UX/UI Design job market like in Southern California?
UX design is becoming more and more relevant, especially in Orange County. In the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, it's been in high demand for a long time. I do think that, from my experience in Orange County, it's something that more people are paying attention to. Interestingly, the position of ‘UX Designer’ can mean so many different things to each employer. One role might be purely focused on research, interviews, and usability testing while another might expect you to do everything from research to UI Design to prototyping to handoff.
What's been your biggest challenge in developing a completely new curriculum for UX Design?
The biggest challenge has been creating a curriculum that is accessible. After eight years of experience as a Designer, putting myself in the shoes of a total beginner and paring down to the essentials has been hard. We’ve worked hard to create a curriculum that you’ll be able to come out of with an incredible portfolio and a breadth of work that you're proud of even if you weren’t an expert before. We want to expose students to a lot of software and the thought processes and languages that they'll need in the job. Employers are looking for design thinking. We want the curriculum to have a bigger, more macro focus, with a strong core.
What's your advice for students embarking on a bootcamp like this?
Be 100% ready to fail and fail with joy. The thinking is all about experimenting and trying new things and exploring solutions that may not always work. Be comfortable enough in that space to try something and have it not succeed. You’ll gain actionable learning from the experience. That's true of every deliverable that we're creating.
Are there any resources you recommend for someone who wants to get their feet wet before they apply to the part-time UI/UX Design Course at LearningFuze?
On Amazon, if you google UX Design and you'll find so many books that are helpful.
There are a couple of websites that I gravitate toward:
Interaction Design Foundation has been an enormous resource for me.
Youtube is a fantastic resource. Check out:
There are tons of podcasts out there as well!
UX touches so many different disciplines. The beauty of the industry is that you don't necessarily need to pick one aspect of UX. You can do copywriting, illustration, design, research, all of it!