Teaching UX Design: The Planning Phase

People gathered around the tables at the UX design workshop
Back in 2018, two of us at Y Soft, Kája and Peťa, were looking for an opportunity to strengthen our skills as UX designers in a way that would be beneficial not only for us, but also for others. We were eager to share our expertise and present our profession to people who were interested and help our local design community to grow. 

That's why we got in touch with Czechitas, an NGO that helps women explore the world of information technology. They organize workshops, courses, summer camps and requalification courses with the goal to inspire, educate and place new talents to strengthen diversity and competitiveness. We quickly found out that our values were similar, so there was nothing to stop our newly established cooperation.

We took positions as external lecturers, and since then, we've been holding several one-day workshops called “The Introduction to UX Design”. The UX workshops were well attended so we decided to follow up with a three-month intensive course named “The Basics of UX Design”. 

How did we design the course? What were attendees' expectations and how did we manage to meet them? And further, why is it beneficial to think like a designer, even if you're not one? That's what we'll address in this 3-part article.

Our Audience

Our goal was to introduce the basics of user experience (UX) design to 30 beginners who were interested in changing their career or expanding their skill set. The lectures took place once a week and lasted 2.5 hours each. Our group of students was fairly diverse: women trying to find a future career path; mothers on maternity leave who wanted to change jobs upon returning to work; and, women who decided to try their luck in IT after they had established themselves successfully in different fields. 

Thinking It Through

During the course, we walked our students through the design process step by step. On top of that, we provided them with as much practical information as we possibly could so students could continue with their education once the course was over, or even change careers and start working as a junior UX designer right away. That’s why we gathered fellow UX designers and other specialists who are true experts in their fields and were willing to share their knowledge and experience on specific topics. We ended up with hosted lectures led by 10 professionals from 6 different companies.


Making Homework Fun

Does your dad make amazing wood sculptures? Design a portfolio for him! Are you going insane whenever you order stuff from your favorite e-shop because their order form is a mess? Redesign it!

A key part of the course was good old homework assignments. At the end of every lesson, students were assigned a task that reflected the content of the lesson, giving them an opportunity to try their hands at what they had just learned. 

On top of that, every student had to use these tasks in a project they would be working on from the beginning of the course to its end. To narrow the possibilities down a bit and make it easier on both us and the students, we limited the project focus to websites only. In other words, students were to create a small website from scratch or to redesign part of an existing website. 


UX Designer Is [Fill in the Blank]​

At the beginning of the first lesson, we asked students why they decided to enroll in the course. We asked what their expectations were and what—if anything—they already knew about UX design. Let's look at the most frequent answers. Caution: Those of you who already know a thing or two about UX design might find yourselves laughing while reading this. 
  • UX designer is an artist skilled in drawing and other related art techniques. “I am a creative person, I love painting, drawing, and photography, that’s why this career path might be the right one for me.”
  • UX designer is a graphic designer. “I love graphic design; I’ve already tried to learn some basics and I want to extend my knowledge in this course.”
  • UX designer is a programmer. “I'm already attending other programming courses; I might as well try this one too.”
  • UX designer's main job is to draw wireframes. “I expect to do a lot of drawing and sketching in this course.”
  • UX designer's main task is to create prototypes using specialized software. “I want to learn a new tool, further developing the hard skills section of my CV.”
  • UX designer is a web designer. “I want to learn how to create websites from A to Z.”
  • UX design is based on a fixed set of rules and principles. “Once I learn the rules, all my designs will be flawless.” 
  • UX design is a pre-defined, static process. “There must be a universal checklist I will stick to every time. By following it, I will successfully do everything needed and won't forget anything important.”
Are you curious about the expectations we were able to meet and how it all went? Stay tuned for the next article in this 3-part series.