Takeaways from Cooper U in Philadelphia

A guest post by Cooper U alumni, Hanna Kang-Brown

As a career changer and the first UX Designer to be hired at my company, there’s a lot of self-learning I do on the job. Reading books and blogs have been essential to developing my UX process, but when I had the opportunity to attend Cooper U’s Interaction Design Training in Philadelphia this past December, I jumped at the chance. I wanted a week of hands-on training, and the opportunity to learn a thorough interaction design process with a group of other professionals. Some highlights from the week and my biggest takeaways are below.

My Biggest Takeaways

Clarifying Process
I was already familiar with the interaction design process, but the course helped deepen my understanding of it through hands on activities. I discovered ways in which I had cut corners in my design process and how I could have a better end product if I spent more time initially considering business stakeholder goals, personas and sketching out scenarios.

Speaking of Sketching
I’ve always been a reluctant sketcher because I never thought I was very good at it. We did a lot of sketching, from user profiles to storyboards and wireframes, and it helped me gain more confidence and a better appreciation for its usefulness as a lightweight prototyping method.

Highlights

Motivated Participants
While about half of the participants were UX designers, some were engineers, front-end web developers and product managers. There was a nice mix of backgrounds, from traditional corporations and universities to technology companies and ad agencies. Everyone came motivated to participate, and it made a big difference in making the experience more fun and challenging.

An Energetic and Experienced Instructor
Our instructor Brian Stone taught with enthusiasm and energy, and he did it for four days straight, all day. I was amazed at his ability to keep us moving, motivated and on task. I especially appreciated his willingness to go outside the course material to facilitate discussions about real interaction design challenges we were dealing with at work, including helpful problem solving for dealing with difficult stakeholders.

Well-Designed Curriculum
The curriculum was thought out, presented at just the right pace with a good balance between presentation and activities. The first three days were spent learning the Cooper Design method through a fictional challenge and on the fourth day we went through the entire method in one day with a different challenge that took us out on to the streets of Philadelphia for user research.

In the end, I left with new colleagues and more confidence to tackle UX and interaction design challenges. I highly recommend this course to anyone looking for a deeper grasp of the interaction design process.

Next on Cooper U world tour is Berlin, Germany May 7-9.