I have just completed my first UX project, and subsequently my first year of graduate school. While I am pretty proud of my first portfolio piece, I'm sure in a very short amount of time I will have improved substantially beyond what I have submitted today. The lessons I learned from this project were numerous. Here are just a few of my takeaways from designing a mock reminder application (and some thoughts on grad school in general):
- Do not try to reformat pictures for your usability testing write-up using Google Docs, late at night, right before a deadline. This will not end well.
- Visual design looks effortless and pleasing when it's well done, but is in fact rather complex and hard to get "right".
- Make sure your paper prototypes are as thorough and fleshed-out as possible before using them for live user testing to avoid having to scribble a sloppy looking UI for your test participants.
- Fully expect that your user research will lead you to places you never imagined - good design (especially in the research stage) is a marathon, not a sprint. It's actually not even a marathon, it's all the training you have to do to GET to race day in the first place.
- Your designs will change, no matter how awesome you thought your first draft was.
- Get used to being uncomfortable.