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Welcome to COGS127!

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  • Don't use email; use Piazza to communicate with course staff
  • To chat with the staff in person, catch us after class or during our office hours. Otherwise please use Piazza!
  • If you can't get into Piazza, let us know in person ASAP.

Overview

The goal of this course is to teach you to create a UX/product design case study for your portfolio, which is the first step to getting a UX/product design job.

Specifically, you will learn to:

  • work in a team of 3 to extend a popular mobile app in a new way (details here)
  • come up with design ideas within the real-world constraints of existing apps, which makes your portfolio more compelling
  • conduct user research and collect data to inform your proposed design ideas
  • make UX flows, paper prototypes, and low-fidelity mock-ups
  • build high-fidelity prototypes using Figma
  • give and receive critiques on your classmates' prototypes
  • do user testing to collect usage data about your designs
  • come up with alternative designs, then compare pros and cons
  • write a case study documenting your design process, which can go directly into your portfolio to send to potential employers

This is a hands-on design course, so in-class activities are a major part of your grade. Please enroll only if you can commit to attend most or all class sessions on MWF 8am-8:50am.

Class Attendance

The purpose of this class is to help you make a compelling case study for your UX/product design portfolio, which is the most important prerequisite for getting relevant jobs in the field. In order to do so, we designed this class to match what leading design schools do, which is to have a variety of active learning activities during class times. This is not a typical lecture/exam class of the sort that you're used to in college.

Attendance is a significant part of your grade because there are lots of things that are learned most effectively in-person:

  • My lectures and Figma tutorials are there to introduce you to the assignments and, more importantly, to provide rationale for why the assignments are structured the way that they are.
  • ... but hearing me lecture is only one part of what you'll do in class; lots of the real learning happens when you're actually doing activities and receiving critiques (as well as hearing critiques of other teams' projects).
  • In-class time for doing user research is there to both help your team learn from doing the research; plus you also learn from acting as participants in other teams' research (since that may give you inspiration for how to improve your own project).
  • In-class time where your TAs critique your assignments (especially in Friday small-group studios) are there both for you to learn directly, and for you to learn from hearing other teams receive critiques. This sort of indirect learning is simply not possible when you're not together in-person as a group, and is some of the most valuable parts of a design education.
  • Coming to class also helps you easily resolve technical issues with TA help such as those with Figma or user accounts; otherwise it's painstakingly slow to debug online on Piazza.
  • Being here in person exposes you to lots of unspoken cultural knowledge about design practices that's really hard to pick up by reading lecture slides. You also get unexpected moments of serendipity such as overhearing classmates talk about a particular design internship or a new tool, which can encourage you to strike up conversations. (This sort of serendipity is really hard to find online, and some alumni tell me how they formed good friendships with classmates in design classes.)

Of course, you can choose to spend your time however you wish, so we give you 3 free absences and the choice to miss more classes if you don't mind missing those points.

Having taught design classes for many years now, one thing I've noticed is that there's a very strong correlation of class attendance with not only grades, but more importantly, with how much true lasting value a student feels they got out of the class.

Finally, everything is correlated: If you notice that one of your teammates is consistently absent from class, then your TA probably also notices, and that person is likely not doing their fair share of work on assignments. You will be privately evaluating your teammates' performance after each assignment turn-in, so the grades of those who don't put in their share of work will be reflected accordingly.

In sum, if you can't consistently commit to coming to class, then I don't think taking this class is the best use of your time.

Acknowledgments

This course was created in Fall 2019 by Philip Guo, David Wu, Rajiv Sancheti, and Sean Kross. It was inspired by introductory HCI courses by Scott Klemmer and Michael Bernstein.