The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: MS in User-Centered Design

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

McKenzie Little ‘23

California

Design Automation Engineer

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

In her spare time, McKenzie enjoys hiking, camping, yoga, making coffee, and reading. 

 

Get to know McKenzie Little! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I was really drawn to the courses listed in the program and the online flexibility for working professionals.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I was able to have a part-time work rotation with a UX team at my workplace and it really solidified my desire to pursue UX as a career.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I start the first class in my program in a few short weeks! I am very excited to begin my studies online at Brandeis University. 

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I hope to learn as much as possible and make great connections with other students. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to work in the UX field.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

 

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Amalia Cesare ‘21

User Experience Writer at The Vanguard Group in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

In her spare time, Amalia loves to explore the many trails in her area while she trains for a half marathon with her husband. During quarantine, she picked up gardening as a hobby and she is currently starting her second batch of seedlings to plant for the summer. She also lives in an area that is heavily concentrated with breweries, so she has enjoyed trying new suds and logging them on Untappd!

Get to know Amalia Cesare! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis for several reasons. I was looking for a program that would fit into my life in a realistic way. I have two bonus kids, a full-time job, and when I started the program I had recently become a new homeowner and was planning a wedding. Life was chaotic to say the least! I wanted a program that offered top-tier education while also offering me the flexibility to meet my other obligations. I also needed a program that was fully remote because I was not in a position to relocate.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

The short answer is that I was both inspired and frustrated by my experience in the IT field. As a technical writer, I was essentially the first user of a product. My engineers would hand over a final build and ask me to document it. This process exposed a lot of product and experiences issues that we just didn’t have the bandwidth to fix based on where my work fell in the product development life cycle. I wanted to move into User Experience and position myself at the beginning of the product life cycle because I wanted to be able to design meaningful experiences and effect positive change for the users of the products I was working on. 

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

To say that I’ve loved my experience at Brandeis would be an understatement! Brandeis has given me so many things: a chance to learn from industry experts, the opportunity to learn through doing, the ability to network with others in the industry, and the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. At my previous employer, I was able to take on additional responsibilities as a UX Designer/Writer in addition to my role as a technical writer. Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to start a new position as a User Experience Writer with The Vanguard Group. My experience at Brandeis gave me the knowledge and confidence to nail my interviews.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I’m planning to complete my program in June of 2021. I hope that, during this time, I can continue to grow my UX network and showcase the knowledge I’ve accumulated with my capstone project. I also hope to continue mentoring students that are new to the program so they can have a successful and enjoyable experience at Brandeis!

What are your plans for after graduation?

While I don’t have any specific plans for after graduation, I’m hoping to continue learning and growing in my new role as a UX Writer. In the future, I’m hoping to transition into UX Research.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Overall, I think the best advice that I could give to incoming students is to not rush through the program if you don’t have to. I’ve taken one class a session, which felt slow to me at first, but I’m so glad that I did. It gave me the opportunity to really focus on and absorb the material I was learning and to enjoy the process of gaining new skills. I’d also echo the advice of many others and say that you should never be afraid to ask questions! I came into this program without a background in design and was worried that it would put it at a disadvantage; it didn’t. If you have a question, just ask. There are many others in your class that have the same question (trust me!) and you’re not going to look silly for asking. This is the best opportunity to further your knowledge and level the playing field!

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

My favorite class so far has been Information Architecture! It was one of the more challenging classes that I’ve taken in the program, but coming from an English background, understanding how tightly language is tied to positive and usable experiences made me feel like I had the ability to apply my existing expertise in a new field. It was also my first exposure to user research, which was both exciting and terrifying! Having to conduct tests with users took me out of my comfort zone, but it has grown into an experience that I love.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

Explore the Latest Design and Development Processes for Effective UX Leadership

When product development and design processes are user-centric, they become more refined and accessible to users. For that reason, companies are integrating user-centered design in their business operations to improve the user experience and engagement across company sectors. As a result, professionals specializing in user-centered design are in high demand. In fact, Glassdoor has identified UX Designer as #27 on their current list of best jobs in America. Professionals who enjoy working at the intersection of creativity, psychology and technology, and who are curious about how design affects learning and behavior, are discovering ways to set themselves apart from their fellow user-centered designed peers. Our MS in User-Centered Design program is an option.

The fully online master’s degree at Brandeis GPS is designed to strike a balance of theory and practice in applying psychological principles and user research to create useful and innovative user experiences. Students explore the latest design and development processes while building the management and collaboration skills essential for effective UX leadership. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to:

  • Master interaction design and information architecture tools and techniques, including design ideation and prototyping.
  • Understand and apply the physical and psychological human factors that impact how users interact with digital products and technology.
  • Hone your skills in design thinking, qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation, and leadership.

When we asked Theresa, a User-Centered Design graduate, about the program, this is what she said,

“While a student at Brandeis, I discovered new opportunities and pathways for professional growth that I never realized existed.”

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments. We will also offer a full-time learning option for our MS in User-Centered Design program. You’ll have the opportunity to complete your graduate degree in one year. 

For more information on the User-Centered Design program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Lauren Haynes ‘23

Digital Marketing Specialist at PGIM Investments in New Jersey

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

In her spare time, Lauren enjoys long runs on the weekend and baking. 

Get to know Lauren Haynes! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

The Brandeis GPS program is great for those working full time or who require a flexible schedule. You get the experience of a full master’s program without having to make any sacrifices for work or your personal life. Also, it’s great to obtain a degree from a top-ranking university.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I gained some familiarity with UX in my current role and that sparked my interest in the field. UX challenges me to think differently and put myself in the shoes of the end-user. You want to create an experience that is not only useful but also pleasurable for your target audience.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I love working on the assignments in this program. We work on real-life projects that are directly applicable to the real world. The best thing about UX is that it can be applied to all facets of business from designing a website interface to creating an onboarding program for new hires.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I want to create relationships with my professors/peers and learn as much as I can. UX is a relatively new field and I want to absorb as much as I can. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I am hoping to take more UX projects in my current role and provide added value to my team. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll learn a lot from your professors who are leaders in their industry and classmates who can provide a unique perspective.

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

So far, I’ve only taken User Experience but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the class so far. It has challenged me to think differently and is directly applicable to my current role. 

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/future-students/learn-about-our-programs/user-centered-design.html.

GPS at UXPA Boston 2019

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association will be holding their 18th Annual User Experience Conference on Friday, May 10, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

Eva Kaniasty, chair of the User-Centered Design program at Graduate Professional Studies, will participate in the Innovation Fishbowl (9:15 a.m.), a debate-style panel session that will cover several controversial topics around UX and innovation:

  • What’s the state of UX design for emerging technologies (voice, IoT, etc)?
  • Are we inventing new processes and methodologies, or just re-branding the old?
  • When we creatively adapt a method or process to fit project realities, are we losing its core benefits/value?
  • Are standards and design systems good for UX, or are they forcing us to design to the least common denominator?
  • Can design collaboration and reliance on user feedback devolve into groupthink and rejection of new ideas?
  • Does UX foster or kill innovation?
  • Have we finally found a way to make Agile and UX play well together?

The Fishbowl format is designed to facilitate discussion in large groups, making it ideal for an advanced conference session. First the panelists will discuss a topic while the audience listens. Next, the audience is invited to join the discussion with questions and comments. The fishbowl round continues for 10-15 minutes, at which point a new topic is introduced and the process repeats.

Eva will also be facilitating a lunchtime discussion at the conference. If you’d like to learn more about the event and programs offered, check out the website and follow along with the hashtag: #UXPABOS19.

How psychology can change user behavior

In a world where websites and digital ad networks serve us nearly one million marketing messages each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to capture the attention of web users going about their daily business. As content consumers, we tend to be task-oriented and ignore the things around us. “Banner blindness” occurs when users automatically ignore the ad-heavy right side of web pages.

As most of us tend to skim web content quickly, bulleted lists and short paragraphs to break up text are considerably effective at keeping users engaged. When it comes to online marketing, understanding the psychology behind web user activity is crucial to successfully promoting a product or running a business.

These topics are furthered explored in Brandeis University’s Cognitive and Social Psychology of User-Centered Design spring 2017 course. As part of the MS in User-Centered Design  graduate program, this part-time, fully online course will examine the psychological and social aspects that impact human interface interaction in both physical and virtual environments. Topics will include:

  • Signal Detection Theory, Gestalt Theory, Cognitive Load Theory and various motivational theories
  • The cultural and social implications of design
  • Cognitive and social psychology principles that will impact the use of a particular design

By the end of the course, students will be able to make reasonable predictions of human behavior with regards to a user interface and/or design and offer design solutions that will ensure effective user experience based on these principles.

Those interested in the course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here.

Questions? Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

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