The purpose of this blog is to reflect on my experience in graduate school. I am currently in the process of changing careers from massage therapy to user experience design (UXD). This blog is an assignment in my UXD Principles and Concepts class at Kent State University.
January 15, 2020
I have really enjoyed this first week of graduate school. I am very grateful that we are starting with this "easy" class to allow all of us time to acclimate to our new schedules and establish some common ground in our understanding of UXD.
What stood out most to me from our reading this week is Don Norman's definition of UXD from his book, The Design of Everyday Things. Norman describes it like this, "The practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality and enjoyment of the total experience."
I like this definition because it is broad enough to include the work I have been doing for the past 25 years as a massage therapist. Every session I have given and every class I have taught has been intentionally designed to provide an enjoyable experience — from the soft music and lighting in a massage room to the organization and flow of information presented in the classroom.
Even though most, if not all, UXD jobs now involve working in the digital space (designing apps and websites), I think this background will serve me well.
January 24, 2020
What impacted me most this week is Norman's description of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on flow states, which occurs when a task is neither too difficult nor too easy but just the right balance between the two. In contrast to flow, he says, "A difficult task, far above our skill, leads to so many failed expectations that it causes frustration, anxiety, and helplessness" (56). Unfortunately, I've been experiencing this with some of the difficult tasks I've been assigned in my UI Immersion bootcamp that I'm taking in addition to grad school.
This is such a big career change for me that sometimes I feel like I've been dropped into a foreign land where I don't know anyone and I don't speak the language or know my way around. Luckily, this first class at Kent State is doing a much better job at meeting me where I'm at and helping me orient to this whole new world of design.
This week, I have also enjoyed reading the book, Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson. I have learned about the design principles and guidelines in two or three other classes, but never the cognitive psychology behind why they are effective. This is adding a whole new layer of meaning and understanding to this subject.