rianne stratford blog

Interested in getting into User Experience or Product Design without any prior experience? Rianne, one of our latest UX Academy Alumni, comes from a marketing background and decided to enrol in our Product Design Course as an addition to her skills. Read below to know more about her experience with UX Academy and how the course has helped her realise a potential career in Product Design.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into Product design?

I originally come from a marketing and customer service background. However, on the side I have been creating an app as a joint hobby with my partner who is a UX designer, so through listening to his ramblings I developed a little knowledge. During our time starting to develop the app, I realized I was having a lot of fun & enjoying myself. 

Q: What made you decide to sign-up for the course?

I investigated ways to help me learn more about the profession as well as potentially expanding my career options. (I was also doing A LOT of blue-sky thinking and getting ahead of myself while developing the app, so I was hoping it would reel me back just a little bit).

Whilst looking through the many options to learn I came across UXAcademy and loved how the product design course looked. It looked extremely well laid out, seemed to cover a lot of important information and the reviews from the alumni made me jump at the chance to sign up!

Q: Which part of the course did you find the most interesting?

As someone with next to no knowledge of product design, I was quite nervous that I would be well out of my depths, fall behind and not be able to get the full potential of the course. I was relieved to find that one of the greatest things about the course, is seeing people come from all different backgrounds, with all different tempos of life coming together to create something beautiful.

The industry professionals who taught the course were incredibly informative & knowledgeable. They were perfectly able to teach the course in a way that catered to a complete beginner like me, that didn’t halter the progress and learning of someone taking the course who already had a background in design.

One of the icebreakers Nick Spiller had us do on the very first session ended up being one of my favourite exercises. He had us individually describe our perfect chair, naturally, we all went straight to very obvious buzzwords like sturdy, comfortable, cosy, relaxing etc. We were all done fairly quickly, potentially overthinking exactly what constitutes as a chair and doubting ourselves slightly. Something that you sit on every day suddenly has you questioning if you even know what a chair is at all!

Next, still, individually we were to describe our perfect chair but using blue-sky thinking, imagining there are absolutely zero limitations to what your chair is.

 Rianne Stratford’s ultimate perfect chair:

  • Middle of a forest, made of a stump of wood. With the arms created from twisted branches. A warm river flows in front of the chair, the perfect temperature to dip your toes into.
  • You don’t know how old the chair is, but you know it will be there long after you have finished with your rest.
  • Somehow it is perfectly shaped to you, though you haven’t been sitting there long enough.
  • The back of the chair perfectly heightens the sound of the forest, similar to a cathedral’s roof. It sounds both louder and clearer.
  • You don’t know how you found the chair, but whenever you need to find it, it finds you and just appears.
  • Henry Cavill is standing next to the chair.

Looking at everyone else’s answer was great! We had chairs that poured you a martini at 4 pm every day, a chair that instantly made you focused, one that you can Fold and pack which fits nicely into your rucksack and you can essentially take it with you while camping and If you’re feeling tired, it unfolds into a bed, has extenders which can act as tarpaulin and then you have a tent.

The sky was the limit, and it was perfect to get us all bonded and giggling with each other. Nick then explained to us how part of product design is discovering how to find the perfect balance between the two ideas, which is ultimately what we would be learning about during the process of the 6-week course!

Q: Which part of the course did you find the most challenging? 

One of the things that I found most challenging during the design process was coming up with ideas – As strange as that sounds. Our client had shown us a brief for his initial design and from that, we were able to create a user flow. But when it came to putting our ideas down into a useable prototype, I found myself somewhat stumped. During one of our mentoring sessions, our mentor suggested doing crazy eights to help overcome this problem. And at the end of doing that, I had plenty of designs to be able to prototype and get in front of user testers.

Q: Which part of Product Design are you the most interested in?

Using data that we had collected ourselves through research interviews to create data-driven designs is a really interesting approach that makes a huge difference in how users interact with your designs. I think too often clients can get hooked on features on their products that users just have absolutely no need for, so being able to use both qualitative and quantitative data can allow for clean and precise design.

Q: What advice would you give for people just getting into Product Design?

Just go for it, don’t worry too much about the possibility of not knowing enough. There are so many friendly, helpful people in the industry who are more than willing to listen, help and give advice.

Q: What is your favourite Product Design trend at the moment?

AI and Voice design are among some of my favourite trends at the moment. More and more companies are creating products that are more accessible to a broader audience and I hope to only see accessibility become a growing priority amongst design teams as time goes on.

Q: Who or what inspires you the most within the industry?

The sense of community in the design industry, and how everyone is so helpful and approachable. Something as simple as dropping a message to someone on LinkedIn and asking for a chat over zoom to discuss how they managed to get into the industry is extremely inspiring and most people are more than willing to do so.

I guess it makes sense from peoples whose job it is to be empathetic to people’s needs!

Q: What are your next steps?

I intend to try and get more experience in the area through either shadowing or internships. And to apply my knowledge learned on the course, to the development of the app which should come out soon™

The course has given me so much confidence and I feel ready to take the next steps needed to further myself in a career in Product Design.

Tempted to make the jump into Product Design yourself? You can sign-up or just gain some more information about the Product Design Course.