A self-reflection of my 8-week design internship at a startup
After a year of self-initiated projects, which was within the comforts and safety of my University, it was time for me to embark into the real world. As much as I was excited to finally put my year’s learning to the test, the apprehension was not far behind. This, as I have learned, is customary for most; so future interns simply accept, ignore and move on.
This summer, I had the opportunity to be part of an Internship program organized by Design4India. Through which I was able to connect with a startup (who graciously took me in) and a mentor without whom the learnings wouldn’t be possible. Now that the internship is over I have compiled few points from my learning under WHO, WHAT and HOW?
.. are we designing for?
As UX designers we are steered towards the users. Designing for the users becomes our primary goal but that is not all it is about. We have a new friend and that is the business goal. It is important that we design keeping in mind a perspective and an understanding that involves both the business objectives and the users.
..will be designing?
Of course it is you and only you. Being an intern one of the things you shouldn’t have is the expectation to have your hand held and breeze through. This is your time and your opportunity, to learn, explore and research on methods you want to incorporate. You are in a space with resources to explore and people to learn from, and it is solely up to you to Learn and Work.Always speak up, ask questions and ask for help when needed.
..do we design?
Initially, I was bent on to improve so many things on the client application. I spent considerable time trying to understand the ideal placement of a menu icon, ensure that the icons were of the same weight, make sure there is visual hierarchy etc. Truthfully the users don’t care. It’s your “designer’s eye” which easily picks out these flaws. Test it out with your users/ “non-designer friends”, I had done that and nobody complained about the things that ticked me off.
Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely important and adds value, trust and credibility to the business but there are more critical things to ponder about, pixel perfect can wait. I eventually with the guidance of my mentor and usability test was able to find critical problems that affect conversions. So here is the thing, you may not have hand holding but do ensure you are working in the critical direction or area as per your ability.
..to get the work done?
I had a week where I had no considerable work done except for stress over what more could be done to eliminate the problem at hand. After days of not being able to generate new ideas or design solutions, I reached out to my client who re-introduced Lean UX ( Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden) to me. I had read the book way back, but now is when I understood its prominence.
When trying to ideate we create assumptions that might improve the product. What I did was try and find the perfect or better solution instead of running with the assumptions I had made. Lean UX encourages that we test out these assumptions as quickly as possible. This helps to ensure we are not ideating in a direction that produces no considerable finding. It does not matter whether your assumption was right or wrong, it is valuable feedback which further instructs the solution. Also, however small the assumption or the proposed change, get out and test it. For small changes can have major impact is what I have learned.