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June 2018 – Frank Gaine
Recently I gave a talk to Masters students about how to prepare their portfolios for the employment market. Looking at the 20 bright faces in front of me, I asked myself a hypothetical question. If I had to pick three of them to interview for a potential role, which ones would I chose? How does a budding designer stand out from the crowd?
Standing out from the Crowd
One way of making an impression is to convey your true passion for the world of UX and design. In previous articles on UXswitch, design leaders have expressed their admiration for candidates with a little spunk. Those that create and share an informed opinion, those that show fascination with human behavior, a hunger to learn and to keep current. So how is this achieved given that your daily work (or your design course work) can be prescriptive or on a topic that does not particularly excite you? How do you show a curiosity and a creativity beyond the norm? One answer is to go out and redesign the world around you. This can range from little improvements to things you see everyday (e.g. train ticket kiosk) or wide ranging changes to a more complex process (e.g. applying for a visa). Look at what Peter Smart did after realising that airline “boarding passes are pretty awful”.
Finding things to redesign
Let’s start with a more simple example. Being determined to vote in a recent referendum, I wanted to check where I was currently registered to vote. Then change the address to match my new abode. Upon arriving at checktheregister.ie, I observed seven forms ranging from registering as a postal voter to changing your address. However, it took me quite some time to figure out which was the right form for me. Instead of simple titles like “Postal Vote Form (Disability)” or “Change of Address Form”, I was faced with meaningless labels such as PVS1 and RFA3. The designer in me went kicked into action. I mocked up the page showing how those codes could be replaced with more meaningful titles e.g. RFA3 became the ‘Change of Address Form’. I tweeted the before-and-after screen shot using #checktheregister, a record of how I felt about a deign issue.
Image: Unfathomable labels for printed forms at checktheregister.ie
On the other end of the scale, here’s an example of an issue requiring a deeper, more wide ranging solution. Irish law requires property developers to place a physical notice on the building in question for a certain length of time. This allows interested parties to assess the impact of the development on their rights or local amenities. However, many of these critical notices are weather beaten, hidden or otherwise difficult to read and interpret. How would I use design thinking to overhaul the inadequate system of notifying the public of property developments? This would entail looking at every touchpoint; physical site notices, the local council office phone line, www.eplanning.ie and beyond. This issue represents a juicy service design project on a topic that I feel passionately about, with the possibility to engage in hands on research, service blueprints, journey maps, wireframes and prototypes. Fantastic portfolio material.
Image: Difficult to see and read Planning notices abound in Ireland.
How thorough is thorough enough?
The level of thoroughness depends on what your aim is exactly. For example, simple before-and-after screenshots showing how UX niggles can be solved with relabelling or other minor surgery are good fodder for Twitter. Frequent posts of this nature would show that you’re always thinking about design, it pervades how you look at the world around you. Whereas a more in depth study involving research, wireframes, prototypes and testing would display your skills more comprehensively. This is great for a UX portfolio where you are not able to show details of client projects for confidentiality or other reasons. It is a good way for you to carry out design activities that you have not been able to complete before now. It also lets you focus on activities or an arena (e.g. Government) that you would like to do in your next role.
Make the world a better place
Aside from forming part of your portfolio, thinking about and publishing your thoughts on the design of everyday things might actually end up in making the world a better place. After all, UXers are an empathetic lot. Why not send your thinking directly to the organization involved, mention them on twitter or send to other interested bodies or forums. You never know, you might even get a call from a prospective employer who appreciates your initiative and approach to problem solving. Stand out, get noticed, move ahead of the crowd.
Source link https://www.uxswitch.com/redesign-the-world-around-you/