In Dec 2020 I completed the Harness Projects Career Launcher UX course. I've now been able to land a UX Design role at Deloitte shortly after completing my course.
The first project with client LendLease was fun and immersive. One of the first things you’ll hear about as a UX designer is the double diamond diagram, and it was the focus of the 12 weeks. The brief was to design a digital concept for residents and businesses of Darling Square to foster connection and community. Being in a pandemic forced us to be more realistic with our solutions. Our mentor, Sam Hancock (Servian) was great at helping us unpack the UX process.
The first 6 weeks, corresponding to the first half of the double diamond, was all about research. We employed a variety of research techniques such as user interviews and desktop research. A key learning takeaway for me was how creative you can be at collecting research data. I visited Darling Square many times to observe and understand the community dynamic. And that’s what made this project so immersive. Some key deliverables I produced included personas, empathy maps and user journey maps.
The later half of the project looked at ideation and coming up with the right solution. I had a lot of fun prototyping my designs on Adobe XD, and being creative with it. It was rewarding to present back my work and receive positive feedback from the client and team.
This second project was right up my alley. The brief was to design a high-fidelity mobile prototype for Head Start Homes and Westpac. We prototyped our designs on Figma, testing with users, and produced design documentation.
My mentor Andrew Hiles (Vodafone) helped us to navigate the world of prototyping with best practice examples. One highlight was the design feedback sessions we had each week. This allowed us to present back our work and get real-time feedback from classmates. At the same time it was great to hear the different approaches others took.
A key learning was that there are so many things that together make a design “succeed”. For example, the copy and wording you choose has an insane power to make or break your design.
The final project was for an Australian based social enterprise called MoneyGirl. The focus for this project was on user research. We looked at the pricing of their products and explored ways to improve the digital reach and student experience. It was refreshing to see the client so passionate about what we had to say, already implementing some of our ideas since then!
Mike Yap (Madpaws), our mentor and UX guru, really took the time to ensure we had the right thinking. We were encouraged to try out different user techniques such as card sorting and surveys. A key learning on this project was the need to test, test, test – you could have the best idea, but if it doesn’t resonate with real users (i.e. MoneyGirl demographic), it won’t work. It’s being able to listen to the users, to the client and making an informed decision.
Soon after the final project, I got to creating my design portfolio and updating my LinkedIn. This whole process made me realise how far I’ve come and how grateful I was to start the journey 6 months back. I appreciated the team at Harness checking-in with me weeks and months after the course.
The portfolio gave me the confidence to reach out to someone from the UX team at Deloitte Digital. I was already working at Deloitte in another team. My portfolio showcased my skills and I was fortunate enough to get a secondment opportunity. Fast forward a few months, and I successfully transferred to the UX team! I can’t thank Harness Projects enough for propelling my UX career transition.
As humans, we can all pick out examples of good and bad design. Before I knew what UX design was, I’d often look at apps on my phone and think about what could be done differently. As I learnt about UX, what I realised was behind every design is a story. A story of a designer working in a team; a story of a business trying to be more digital; a story of a user delighted by an app they love. For me, being in the room to make those design decisions was what drove me to being a UX designer.
I really enjoyed the Career Launcher course and recommend it to anyone starting out as a UX designer! I’d say what you put into the course is what you get out of it. There was so many positives. The mentors were down to earth and super knowledgeable. Online Zoom classes were fun and practical. You’re working with reputable clients interested in your ideas and solutions (they are so friendly!).
My technical and soft skills definitely improved, but it wasn’t an overnight thing by any means. I attribute it to lots of practice and asking questions. Everyone in the class got a chance to speak up, and that was really valuable to hear other viewpoints. We also received constructive feedback throughout the journey which I took on board.
The biggest challenge I had was juggling this course with full-time work. It was a quiet blessing to be working from home more due to COVID, saving the commute time to complete coursework. Putting in the time and energy and seeing the payoff motivated me to work harder on the latter projects. The mentors are also accommodating when you’ve got other life commitments that pop up!
I’d describe Harness Projects as a highly practical and rewarding learning opportunity. A plus for me was being able to lean on industry mentors and the class for feedback, which helped me grow as a designer. With each client problem to solve, you gain a deeper understanding of the UX process. A key learning for me was that there’s not a one-size fits all approach from problem to solution. I’ve not only managed to build a design portfolio, but developed my confidence to transition to UX.
Follow Steven’s footsteps and check out our Career Launcher UX Course.