Day 1 : UX Design @ GA

I have been consulting at a fleet operations company for the last 6 months. In this gig, I have been working closely with an amazing UX Designer. We have had some very interesting and challenging problems to solve. Throughout the last 6 months, I have learnt and practiced a lot of concepts involved in UX design. But I wanted to formalise my understanding and pick up skills that would help me navigate the complex domain better and help create exciting products for the customer. Hence starts my 6 day UX journey with General Assembly.

Here is a gist of concepts that we explored today. This is meant to be a brain dump and a quick overview of topics covered for anyone considering doing the UX course with GA.

What is UX ?

Why UX ?

  • To avoid software failures

  • To help product adoption

  • To simplify

  • To make sure problem actually exist and solve the correct problem

UX helps to understand human beings, to understand how they act and why they act that way. Fundamental human need is the same, but the medium of achieving that has changed over time. UX is independent of the medium it is delivered in. Hence its important to clear your minds of mediums of solving the problem.

Releasing serotonin is the fundamental thing UX is trying to achieve, in short the art of triggering emotions. Hence it is important to understand the experience that we are trying to create.

An important thing to bear in mind is that, there is only so much UX can do to dress something up. If the fundamental problem isn't being solved, UX is not going to help much.

Everybody has an opinion. So the UX designers are adding some credibility to it.

What constitutes UX ?

The important thing to remember is that there are parts of UX that every company wants. You might not be good in all. So pick your niche.

What is UX process ?

UX is a continuous iteration between design, build, launch and measure.

When you understand why you do what you do, you become infinitely good at it.

Double diamond process : Double Diamond process is a combination of Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver which eventuates to gathering data and then narrowing the scope, exploring possibilities and then defining the constraints. The idea is to go wide in the first step and then narrow it down. The end goal is to avoid cognitive bias or what is called an ego driven design.

What is design thinking ?

Design thinking is used to unlock a market and create a future state (a future action or a future mindset)

It consists of inventing a future, testing the idea and finally the bringing the idea to life. Its about working out what customer might want, that they don't have, testing different prototypes and price points and finally building a process and a team to bring it into life.

To test out a product or an idea, you only need a minimum of 5 people to get good results from statistical perspective. 5 people will give you 80% of the common problems. The idea is not to nut out every single edge case. The more people you test, the harder it gets to process the data.

Why conduct Research ?

  • To make sure you are solving a problem that exists in people's lives.

  • Deliver products that is tailored to the needs of its intended audience

  • Gather data that supports your design research

  • Get rid of all arguments especially starting from "I think" ;)

  • Research saves money !

What are the different types of research ?

User research can be of following types :

  • Eye tracking : The eye tracking device focuses on the pupil of the participants eye and determines the direction and concentration of their gaze. It is to understand user patterns. Although following an eye tracking video can be quite challenging.

  • Usability labs : This is out of context for the users. There are also moderated remote usability study labs.

  • Ethnographic field studies : To observe people in their native environments

  • Clickstream analysis

  • A/B Testing

  • Focused group : It can lead to group thinking. You should be a good moderator to be able to break that group thinking and avoid one person leading the discussions

  • Interviews : One on one interview is highly effective to gather the whys.

  • Customer feedbacks

  • Diary/camera studies

  • Surveys

One from each section : behavioural, attitudinal, qualitative, quantitative is a good research.

Main thing to keep in mind is that people don't know what they want. Its upto us to interpret what they said, so get them to talk about their problem. Ignore the solution that they give us. People lie all the time. Its what they perceive. People aren't self aware.

Start by gaining empathy. Walk a mile in their shoes.


One topic to focus among the various research techniques is Interviewing .

A good interview focuses on probing behaviours to understand thought patterns and motivations behind it.

What are the good interviewing techniques ?

  • Ask open ended questions

  • Ask about actual behaviour, not intention (what have they have done in the past)

  • Ask why's to get to the heart of matter

  • Listen, don't push for something specific

  • Avoid leading questions

  • Avoid compound questions

How to conduct an interview ?

Best type of interview is when you are having a conversation, rather than coming across as an investigation.

Start with a personal story. Connect with people.

Record your interviews, so you have don't have to take notes while talking to people.

Always do a dry run

Listen atleast twice as much as you talk

A good way to start is :"Tell me more about ... "

A good way to end is : "So what you are telling me is … "

Competitive Research

Companies are staying ahead to get into the competitive business. While doing a competitive research, bear in mind that what competitors are doing might not be right. We don't know if its actually working or not. Take it with a grain of salt.

Don't take the competitors that clients give you at face value. What is a perceived competitor may not be the full representation of the competitors.

Just looking at the digital presence of a competitor is not quite enough either. Go through the full experience of products the competitors are providing.

Advice to Future UX designers : UX is not linear. It can be messy. Get used to living in ambiguity. ;)

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