Brandeis GPS Blog

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Tag: UX

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Headshot of McKenzie Little

Student Spotlight

McKenzie Little ‘23

California

Design Automation Engineer

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

In her spare time, McKenzie likes to visit with friends, travel, hike, dance, bake, crochet, rock climb, and practice yoga. In her most recent trip, McKenzie spent a month in Washington State with her boyfriend and several friends working remotely and exploring the state on the weekends. Exploring new places is when she is happiest!

Get to know McKenzie Little! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis GPS due to the courses in the User-Centered Design program, as the topics were aligned with my career goals. I felt that I would get a lot of hands-on experience through project work and that I would learn a lot from the mentorship of industry professionals instructing the courses.  

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I chose User-Centered Design because improving people’s lives through design and research aligned with my values. I also enjoy being able to express creativity through sketching and prototyping. Also, doing a part-time work rotation with a User Experience team at my workplace really solidified my desire to pursue this career.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I have had a fantastic experience so far. I have met many talented students with similar interests and goals in the program. The instructors have been so helpful and inspiring to learn from.

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

I am looking forward to learning as much as possible in the four remaining courses I have left in the program. I hope to continue to strengthen my relationships with the other students in my classes and to learn from them as well.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I am looking forward to applying what I have learned in the program and expanding my knowledge as I grow my skills in the industry.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

I highly recommend participating in the student mentorship program. My advisor reached out to me about this opportunity shortly before my first course in the program, and it was extremely helpful to have a mentor to share questions with as I progressed through the first few courses.

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

My favorite class so far has been User Interface Design with Dave Lumerman. This course is an elective, and it truly pushed me on a constructive way to improve my skills and grow. I took it early on in my program and it helped me get more comfortable with design ideation as well as prototyping.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

2022 UXPA Boston Fair

On May 25th, Brandeis University was pleased to sponsor the annual UXPA Boston Fair. The event, held virtually on Zoom and Kumospace, offered students and career changers the opportunity to receive mentorship and guidance around career paths in the fields of user experience design, research, development, information architecture, and content strategy.

The fair was especially useful to students currently enrolled in Brandeis GPS’s User-Centered Design program. The online master’s program, which offers both full-time and part-time options, allows students to study at the intersection of psychology, creativity and technology, thus enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of user experience (UX) and engagement principles. 

It is clear from student testimonials that the UXPA Fair was a success on multiple fronts, offering students a wide range of learning experiences to complement their studies at Brandeis GPS.

Student Crystable Rangel found the career panel to be particularly interesting, stating that “each panelist had a diverse background and brought a unique perspective.” Rangel walked away from the panel with a new understanding of the importance of mentorship, saying that, “while I am learning a lot in my program, it has become very clear to me that I will also need a mentor to help with my growth and transition.”

Aashish Maskey, who attended the event from her home in Hawaii, also gained valuable insight from the career panel. She says, “It was great to have some of my questions answered in the group mentoring. I am transitioning into UX with previous experience with healthcare, clinical applications and background in art. It was good to know that some of the skills and knowledge that I already have could be my advantage in breaking into the field of UX.”

According to Gabriele Burke, breakout sessions were “the highlight” of the event, with “very knowledgeable instructors and very interactive sessions.” She says, “Instructors answered all my questions and took a lot of time, which was good for the small group sizes.” This helped Burke to gain useful information about preparing “specialized and tactical resumes.”

Other GPS students made valuable connections during the networking part of the fair. Student Abigail Grinberg stated, “I found it to be valuable to connect with others in the UX industry and hear about their varying experiences. Especially since I am new to the field, I appreciated hearing advice on how others went about finding their first UX jobs. It also was interesting to learn about the types of projects people are working on and the many applications of UX/UI.”

To read more about the learning and networking opportunities offered by Brandeis GPS, visit our website.

My Experience at UXPA Boston 2021

Contributed by: Lauren Haynes 

Through the Brandeis Graduate Professional Program (GPS), I had the opportunity to attend UXPA Boston 2021UXPA Boston is an annual full-day conference that brings together UX professionals from varying experiences and industries. During the conference, attendees can participate in a series of presentations, lunchtime table topics, mentoring, raffles, and “speed” networking. 

The week before the conference:

A few days before the conference, I was granted access to Hopin—the virtual event platform. Through Hopin, I was able to personalize my profile and plan my conference itinerary. In addition, I was able to read the bios of the event speakers and see other professionals attending the event. 

Day of the conference:

The day started with a welcoming address delivered by the UXPA Boston President, Bob Thomas. Following the address, the conference continued with presentations delivered by seasoned industry professionals. The presentations spanned topics including career development, strategy, design, user research, strategy, and UX in society. Several 45-minute presentations were scheduled concurrently, so attendees had the option to choose between sessions or bounce in between.

I planned out my day accordingly and chose sessions that were of interest to me. (There were so many great sessions to choose from, it was hard to decide). I ultimately attended the following presentations:

  • Design for Users Everywhere – How to Craft a Meaningful International UX
  • Stakeholder Relationships: Leading UX researching to greater success and impact
  • Give me the Quick Version! Using one-pages to communicate research findings far and wide
  • The Indispensable Principles of Designing Complex Interfaces 
  • Build for Action, not Distraction: Five practical steps you can take to build successful UI
  • Over-complicated? Over-simplified? The UX Efficient Frontier
  • Designing Meaningful Visualizations: A case study in connecting users to their data 

During lunch time, there were also “table talks” where you can discuss hot topics moving the industry. I participated in the Design for Behavior Change group where we discussed how to avoid dark UX/UI patterns. 

I had a great experience at UXPA Boston 2021 and would love the opportunity to attend again. There was content appealing to all experience levels—whether you’re looking to transition into the field to seasoned vets. The presentations were relevant and informative, and I most certainly obtained takeaways that I can apply to my current role.

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.

The Best Jobs for Life-Work Balance

Glassdoor, a popular jobs and recruitment website, recently released a crowd-sourced list of best jobs for achieving work-life balance. Many of the positions in the Glassdoor list directly correspond to the industry-driven master’s degrees offered at GPS. Among the 29 positions profiled include:

1. Lab Assistant
2. Creative Manager
3. Computer Programmer
4. Marketing Coordinator
5. Data Analyst
6. Content Manager
7. Web Designer
8. Social Media Manager
9. Scrum Master
10. Marketing Analyst
11. Devops Engineer
12. Mobile Developer
13. User Interface Designer
14. Data Scientist
15. User Experience Designer

Whether you currently hold one of the positions above or are interested in advancing into a similar job, you’re probably looking to achieve balance in all areas of your life. For those seeking to pursue a graduate degree, Brandeis GPS fosters a community that is mindful of the multiple demands facing adult learners and while offering the rigorous standards of excellence that makes Brandeis one of the top universities in the country.

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