5 things I learned from interaction design specialization on Coursera

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For the past year I’ve been studying Interaction Design Specialization on Coursera. This series of courses taught me mindset and techniques of a designer. Design is everywhere, and a design-oriented mindset allows us to see the world in different ways. At its core, designers are problem identifiers and problem solvers, and everyone can strive to be a designer. So what have I learned from this specialization?

1. Design has its workflow

The process of design originates from user needs, and ends with an outcome that address the identified need. On a high level, design has following states:

2. Design is iterative

No one gets a design right at first shot. It requires rounds of brainstorming, prototyping and testing to generate a design that hit the bull’s eye. Design process is iterative by nature, and the focus should be on the marginal improvements during each iteration. After each round of design iteration, we should have a better grasp of problems we try to solve.

3. Stay curious, not judgemental

One big mindset challenge for being a designer is how we receive and process feedback. When we design prototypes and get it in front users, any critics or negative feedback might hurt our personal feelings. As designers, our goal is to identify a user problem, and apply design to solve it. Instead of thinking about “this is my design” and getting personally attached, we can stay curious and focus on more problem-solving questions, such as:

Such mindset removes personal attachment from the solution, and we switch from being judgemental about the feedback to being curious about the feedback.

4. Focus on information flow

One of my misunderstanding on design is that design is about “making things pretty”. Product design is centered around information and user interaction with relevant information. The primary focus should be user-centric and information-centric. For example, in designing for interactions, we should keep in mind that search and navigation go together, and we should emphasize on discover-ability and feedback of a design, there are several principal questions we can ask:

5. Design problem is everywhere

Above all, this specialization taught me to see the world differently. We can keep a curious mindset and observe everything around us, from the design of a doorknob to the shape of a soda bottle. Design is everywhere, so are the efficiency and inefficiency that come with it.

Design requires research, it starts with an ask, an idea, or simply an observation. From a vague, big idea we start to explore and learn. The process itself provides a tremendous joy for any designer.

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