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User Experience Design Masters, in progress

November 6th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on User Experience Design Masters, in progress | Filed in UX education

Hello all,
It’s been a long time since my last post.

In addition to work and home life with the usual demands, I’ve been right in the thick of things with my Masters in User Experience Design pursuit.

I recently finished my first class, and two weeks into class two.

I’m absolutely loving it so far. There have been some weeks more than others that are demanding, between readings and homework, but my overall feelings are excitement and fun.

The first class was mostly an overview of User Experience principles. While I’ve been in the field for a long time, I was very happy that this class was more than just a review of stuff I already know. A lot of the overall materials were review, but I learned a lot. For example, I’ve done some heuristic evaluations in my day, and some reports about findings. But through the assignments and readings we had, I learned much better ways to do them — better structure, better presentation, etcetera.

That was the coolest thing about it. For a first college class in almost 20 years, and for a first-ever online class, it had a nice pace and wasn’t overly taxing, but it was also far more than “spring training”. I really picked up a lot of useful information.

Right now, in the second class, we are looking at different methods to quickly sketch out concepts, get feedback, and sketch more. Again, that’s something I’ve done many times in my career, but again, there’s a good deal to learn about alternative methods and putting some structure around it.

In short, my initial impressions of this program are glowingly positive. The realities of work life are positive and negative, with smatterings of politics and business trappings therein. What I’m experiencing in the academic sphere of UX is a lot of great information, and positive, very constructive feedback of everything I’m doing. It’s incredibly empowering and valuable.

Ever onward….

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mkeUX: User Research Panel meet-up on Sept 29th

September 11th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on mkeUX: User Research Panel meet-up on Sept 29th | Filed in user experience

mkeUX logoTo all of you within the sound of my Milwaukee-based voice, be sure to check out mkeUX’s upcoming panel discussion on User Research, coming Tuesday, September 29th at The Irish Pub.

There’s a great trio of experts, namely Kim Baker, John Dugan and Deb Sova (whom I had the pleasure of working with years ago at my previous job).

Research is a key, often marginalized component of creating successful user experiences. There are many techniques and approaches to better understanding users, business needs, competitors, etcetera from contextual inquiries to focus groups to competitive analysis.

It’s particularly topical to me because it’s what we are currently undertaking in my first class of the User Experience Design graduate program.

What’s more, I will be moderating this panel discussion. It ought to be informative, fun and lively. I’ll do my part to weave in a little accessibility-minded questions too.

Check it out!

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Graduate School Has Begun

September 9th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on Graduate School Has Begun | Filed in user experience

I’m entering my second week of online graduate school and it’s been quite the experience getting back into the academic world. For those just joining us, I’m pursuing a Masters Degree in User Experience Design through Kent State.

So far, all is going very well. However, as I mentioned in my last post, a lot has changed since I completed my undergraduate degrees at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, over 17 years ago.

When I was in college then, the Internet was just emerging. I actually used the text browser Lynx to surf the web, since I couldn’t get any of the visual browsers of the day (Mosaic and Netscape, specifically) to work on my Mac. Now, everything I’m doing for this program is online, for a school 460 miles away.

It’s not like I’m some technology neophyte. I’ve obviously been in the tech industry my entire career. I was immediately comfortable using Blackboard to access course materials. Everything is just a whole lot different, and it’s a fascinating, kind of fun experience.

My tools of choice thus far:
Equil SmartPen 2 shown writing comments about sushi on paper and having it duplicate automatically on an iPhone.

  • Equil Smartpen 2 – can write traditional notes on paper, but transfer it automatically to the computer, and render handwriting into text.
  • Oxford Stone Paper Notebook – the only place I can find these is Walgreens, but they are worth it.
  • Evernote – to capture research I find, and can sync my Smartpen notes to it directly
  • Apple Music – to listen to classic music playlists
  • Coffitivity – to listen to ambient noises like “University Undertones.”
  • Kindle app – on my iPad for reading all textbooks. Highlighting was never cleaner or error-free!
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    2 Weeks Until Graduate School

    August 19th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on 2 Weeks Until Graduate School | Filed in Disability Facts

    I’m excited — I’m now less than two weeks away from embarking on my 2-year journey to get a Master’s Degree in User Experience Design.

    It’ll be a whole new adventure in a multiple ways. It’s been over 17 years since I’ve been in the academic world. Back then, the Internet was just emerging. Now, I’m doing an entire graduate program online.

    So, I’m learning Blackboard and starting to read some of the class materials.

    I can’t wait to get started, and I’ll share my experiences along the way.

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    Madison+ UX 2015 Thoughts (Part One)

    July 15th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on Madison+ UX 2015 Thoughts (Part One) | Filed in Accessibility News, user experience

    Madison+ UX

    This past weekend, I attended the Madison+ UX conference in, you guessed it, Madison, Wisconsin.

    My primary motivation was to support my friend and colleague Mike Kornacki, who was there to present Experience Innovation: The New Design Imperative.

    Long story short, the conference was overall amazing. There was an outstanding lineup of speakers beginning to end.

    I could go on at length about all the presentations, over multiple posts, but instead I’ll just do some quick one-liners.

    Update: Okay, I lied – I’m going to split this up into two posts because I don’t want this is to a novel, and yet I don’t want to marginalize any of the presentations!

    Thoughts (in no particular order), Part One:

  • Pamela Pavliscak‘s “Gen Z and the Future of Technology” was a fascinating look at how technology use and expectations has evolved with each generation (and yet Gen Z’ers typically have the worst devices in their household!)
  • Colleen Bos of Bos Meadery has given me a whole new interest in mead. They use a fascinating, science-based approach to making mead better than traditional methods. It’s also a drier, sparkling variety, versus the ones I’ve had in the past that were too sweet for my liking.
  • Chris Coyier was a whirling dervish in delivering a great presentation about how (and when) to leverage SVG in delivering visuals, including animations and iconography.
  • Lis Pardi’s “In Defense of the Floppy Disk” was a compelling study into not overthinking the icons we use to convey common actions on the web. Just because younger generations haven’t used things like floppy disks or rolodexes doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t understand what their symbology represents.
  • Lis Pardi presenting In Defense of the Floppy Desk

    Next time, I’ll share more…

    The sad news is that this is the last Madison+ UX (formerly UXMad), at least in its present form. There seems to be interest in continuing it, so hopefully grass roots will keep it going.

    In any case, special thanks to Jim Remsik and the Adorable crew for coordinating such a great conference.

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