Week 1: Orientation

25 September, 2021

It’s been a while since I left my last formal study. I studied information technology and got my first job as a web designer/programmer – and that began my journey to experience design. Finding creative solutions using technologies that could help both businesses and users get their jobs done.

I worked at a small design house, where I learned some basic design skills and often worked on some print projects. At that time, I just felt like any jobs I could perform on a computer excited me. Over the past 20 years, all the skills combined have helped me become a better user experience designer.

In late September, I received the formal offer where Falmouth University accepted me in their MA, User Experience Design program. I was extremely excited because this is one of my goals to obtain a proper academic qualification on what I love to do. But at the same time, it worried me because now I had to adjust my routine to accommodate the additional work.

This week was all about getting ourselves familiar with the program and how to practice reflective journal writing.

One of the reasons I went back to school was to reconstruct my knowledge. The reflective journal would help me pause and pull everything together, contextualize what I learned, and identify any issues and doubts to address them.

Another cool thing about the study was the weekly challenge. Week 1 asked us to create a custom avatar that could tell a story about myself. I immediately thought of a few items I use every day to put together.

My avatar using objects that could tell a story or mean something to me
My avatar using objects that could tell a story or mean something to me

I used the following items:

  • Post-it notes: How I organize my works
  • AirPods: Represent how music helps me focus and relax
  • Catan: Show my interest in strategy games
  • Plants: Leverage my mood and my dedication to keeping them green

The breakdown of the composition of the avatar:

  • Project management was one of my weaker skills. However, I adopted different techniques like personal kanban to help keep things on track. I placed the post-it notes in the position to represent that was one thing I’d been thinking of improving.
  • The round pieces were Catan’s points. They are usually placed randomly on top of the resources. Most people would aim for the higher score, but often, you have no choice but to settle on the lower ones. There were two reasons I picked them to shape my face:
    1. According to research, humans prefer curved visual objects[1], and I wanted viewers I had not physically met to see me as friendly, non-threatening.
    2. I like to see each of my past experiences as a dot, and I believe they would somehow connect and lead me to the future one day. The points represented those experiences had different values, and those shaped my eyes that had yet revealed their value were the ones I am curious about and ready to discover.
  • The action of me biting on a pen represented my nervousness about things happening, but the plants as my arms would grow and reach my goals.

Reference:

[1] Bar, M. and Neta, M., 2006. Humans Prefer Curved Visual Objects. [online] Available at: <https://faculty.biu.ac.il/~barlab/papers/2006%20Bar%20-%20Curved.pdf> [Accessed 23 September 2021].

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