In August 2020 I completed the Harness Projects Career Launcher UX course. I've now been able to pivot from my Digital Marketing role into a UX Design role at Cash Rewards shortly after completing my course.
The first project of the Career Launcher course was UX fundamentals. The aim of the first project was to give you the entire end to end experience of working across initial research of a problem to then delivering a final solution with design of a real problem.
Our team worked with Communiteer to help deliver a mobile friendly redesign of their current site. Having to experience working on a real life case study, and to work closely with the client and present my final solution was really invaluable for me.
This project ultimately helped me gain real insights into different aspects of User Experience and apply that into a real project and client brief within a tight timeframe of nine weeks. During the nine weeks, I learnt everything from interviewing for the very first time, to creating personas to tell a story and designing a high-fidelity design of my solution.
This project really throws you in right away as it’s a lot to learn in the short amount of time, but I enjoyed every minute of it and really felt like I had a great understanding of all there is to User Experience Design.
Having the help of our mentor was also really helpful as she was there every step of the way to answer any questions the team might have had (which was a lot). As we were all very new to UX, we felt very supported throughout every stage and were even guided with regular catch up calls with our mentor to go through where we were at and what we might need to improve on before the delivery of our final solution.
The second project of the Career Launcher course focused on Advanced User Research. We had a shorter time frame of seven weeks than the previous project and had to present our final insights to the client which was to identify pain points in the purchase journey for a small Australian brand that focuses on sustainable products.
This project allowed us to deep dive into different research techniques and to also practice and perfect our research skills. As the brief included interviewing both current and potential customers identified by the client, I had to learn how to tailor my questions to each person I interviewed. The research techniques I explored included Google Analytics, surveys, interviews and usability testing. I also learnt how to synthesise all the raw data I had collected and provided recommendations based on my research.
For each project you take, you are also given credit to use Askable, an online user testing platform that helps you recruit suitable candidates and interview them. I certainly took advantage of this which allowed me to interview someone who wasn’t a family or friend!
In order to support one another, especially during lockdown, our team would meet over Zoom outside of class hours and go through the research findings that we had previously conducted, which made me feel really supported and not so alone throughout the whole process.
Throughout the weeks, our mentor would give insights and different suggestions on the types of research we could conduct. Our mentor also provided examples on the different research he had previously conducted which was invaluable to learn.
The third project of the Career Launcher course focused on Advanced Usability and Wireframing (which was my personal favourite) that also had a seven week time frame as the previous project. I had been looking forward to this project the most as it was working with an international company, IKEA which you might already know! When we first received the brief, I felt very inspired to jump straight into it as it focused on designing an online furniture rental service targeted towards small business owners who would have furniture needs in particular after the impact of Covid-19 on their business.
What got me interested in User Experience was the ability to design a solution that’s centered around a customer and their needs. During the project we learnt how to use Figma to design our solution which was great to learn as it’s relevant and being used across many companies to date!
The most invaluable thing I learnt in this project was the impact of interviewing real small business owners and taking them through my prototype through usability testing. Having someone test my prototype meant that I was able to tweak my design to be relevant towards them based on any issues they came across. Also getting the feedback that my prototype was simple to use really gave me the confidence that I’m on the right path in my career!
Each week the whole team would go through their designs where we had the chance to explain the purpose of each element in the design that helped us solve the problem to the brief. Our mentor was also really great as he helped provide feedback on our designs and answer a lot of Figma questions we might of had!
After the course completed, I went straight into building out my portfolio site along with creating my three case studies that I worked on during my time at Harness. Harness provides a 90-day job guarantee service, and as part of that I submitted my portfolio and CV in order to get feedback which was great to receive and make updates based on that feedback!
From the experience I received at Harness, I was able to transition into an User Experience Design role from Marketing at my current company where I still am today! Having the experience to work on three projects with real clients, and then to be able to present my final solution really helped me easily transition and gave me confidence going straight into the role based on how much practical experience I received during the six months. Also, having learnt Figma was also a big plus as I was also able to jump in, straight on the tools. Big plus!
My interest in UX first came when I started working for a tech company straight out of university and was inspired by how much real impact the team had to not only the company but it’s customers too! It only came into possibility that this was a career for me when I was exploring different options, and I haven’t looked back since! For me having the opportunity to create impactful experiences through creativity and design that aligns with business goals is what I’m most passionate about.
What drew me into the Career Launcher UX course was the style of learning and having the ability to come out with portfolio work that you can be really proud of. Having the opportunity to explore the entire end to end design process and then concentrate on research or design allowed me to also figure out what type of area I would like to specialise in as UX is very broad! Having the opportunity to also work closely with a team that are with you on the journey, and having mentors with years of experience that are also available to answer all your questions was also really great to have in this course. I’m very sad that it’s over!
I would say a number of skills improved over the course of my six month journey! The most important skill I found that will apply in my career is to deliver a solution that’s backed by research also being confident that what I have created can make a difference. You can make a pretty design, but if it doesn’t solve a problem then it’s useless! I would also say my presentation skills definitely improved. Having the opportunity to present three times to clients improved each time I did it, and it only did get better the more I did it! It’s something I can confidently do now.
A major challenge I came across was through finding candidates to interview that fit the right audience for each brief. Especially during lockdown it did make things challenging but with platforms like Zoom, it didn’t take long to transition into the new norm! Having credit to use Askable also helped out when I was short on participants. Another challenge I came across was my time management. Whether you're over analysing your research in your synthesis stage, or playing around with your design without actually testing it on somebody can set you back. What I really learnt was to try and stick to what is recommended for you each week as best as you can.
A Harness Project essentially allows you to jump straight into a real project with a real client to help solve a problem the company is facing. With a team of 12 students and a mentor to guide you through each step of the way, you are left with real life experience by presenting a final solution to a problem and a portfolio piece that you are proud of!
Follow Natalia’s footsteps and check out our Career Launcher UX Course.