Designing an e-learning platform as K-12 school goes fully online.

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The goal of this project was to create an educational product that would help students stay engaged and become autonomous learners while out of the traditional classroom.

The Context

This project began in April 2020, our second month into stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. Students, parents, and educators were settling into remote learning for the long haul. As a former teacher, I was hearing frustrations from all parties about the difficulty of being thrown into this new world, and worries about whether this major shift could be successful. …


3 steps to creating mood boards that encapsulate and communicate your design direction effectively.

Icelandic horses in the snow.
Icelandic horses in the snow.
These horses are moody, just like your mood board should be! Photo by G Meyer on Unsplash

Here you are in the design process having conducted tons of user research, scoped down your problem, worked to develop a detailed wireframe that has tested well, and you are ready for the next step. This is where you need to take your designs to the next level so that you can really visualize the concepts you worked so hard to develop.

While for visual designers this may be the fun part, it also requires a ton of creative inspiration because you are responsible for narrowing down what kind of mood and style you want your product to portray. This is where mood boards can come in to save time, create inspiration, and communicate your design direction to teammates and stakeholders. …


Asking your interviewer unique questions can help you stand out during the interview process.

A dog raising his paw, like he wants to ask a question.
A dog raising his paw, like he wants to ask a question.
Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Asking more questions and follow-up questions will increase likability. Yes, it is incredibly frustrating that we have to figure out ways to make ourselves seem more likable in a short 20–30-minute initial phone interview, but it’s our truth as job hunters in an incredibly competitive climate. And likable is really the bare minimum — what we really need is to be memorable. Our interviewers could be talking to dozens of other candidates who will all (or mostly) be bare-minimum likable.

Be human.

Going into your initial conversation with a company, be genuinely curious. What would you ask if you were interviewing the company? Get in there and take the reins. People will look back at the conversation fondly, and so what if it’s because they talked about themselves for a big chunk of the time? It’s more enjoyable for everyone when it isn’t a one-sided conversation. …


The mere-exposure effect says we like what we know: food, people, and UX.

A cat, sleeping comfortably on a lounge chair.
A cat, sleeping comfortably on a lounge chair.
Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

I remember being 20 and hearing ‘Sexy Back’ by Justin Timberlake and thinking, ‘what the hell has he done?’ I thought the song was horrendous and strange, and I couldn’t wait to never hear it again. But alas, I caught myself humming it incessantly throughout the day and of course, the only cure was to listen to it again. And so it went until I grew to love it for its irritating catchiness because it is, in fact, a real banger.

This phenomenon is an example of the mere-exposure effect, or familiarity principle, which explains that the more we are exposed to something, or the more familiar we become with it, the more we like it. …


A silver lining COVID bootcamp story.

People sitting separately, wearing virtual reality eyewear.
People sitting separately, wearing virtual reality eyewear.
Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

In January 2020, my design cohort and I dove into our first remote lecture, before Zoom completely took over our lives, while it was still novel and almost kind of fun. Sixty-ish squares filled with tiny, eager faces ready to take on this challenge ahead. At this point, we would be remote for the first 12 weeks with cohorts from around the country, and in-person with our small Denver group for the final 12 weeks. (Awww, remember when we thought we would be able to do things?) …


Ways to ask the right questions during ideation.

Questioning is a massive part of design thinking. In UX Design, questioning can frame a problem while also revealing our own assumptions and biases about that problem. Designers should know the importance of asking the right questions during user research, interviews, and testing. However, questions can also help us unleash our imaginations and think more creatively. They can guide our approach to a problem — or blow it up, giving us a unique perspective, which can be invaluable during ideation.

Street art depitcting an anxious face with the words ‘what now?’
Street art depitcting an anxious face with the words ‘what now?’
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Teachers also use questioning for many reasons: engaging students, checking for understanding, and igniting imagination and problem-solving. When faced with the right questions, learners can generate non-standard — even strange — solutions. But solutions nonetheless. …


The skills that teachers possess make them incredible UX designers.

A teaching is standing in front of a class of attentive young students.
A teaching is standing in front of a class of attentive young students.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

For nearly a decade, I marveled at the incredible things my fellow educators could manage in one day. Writing lesson plans, creating materials, holding data team meetings, contacting parents, grading, and even teaching, believe it or not! All while maintaining personal relationships with sometimes hundreds of students. These people are superheroes. We all know that teaching is an undervalued profession in our society, but it’s also incredibly important that we acknowledge the transferable skills that make teachers strong candidates for countless other careers.

Last year I decided to take the leap from teaching into UX/UI design, and through my journey, I saw how similar design thinking is to the teaching process. I quickly came to realize that teachers are experts in the user-centered design process and that they could bring an extremely valuable perspective to a design team. …

Elise Gust

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