A discussion happened in my class the other day — what kind of projects would you take up if you are trying to showcase your UX design knowledge with a case study! Let me put my thoughts in writing before I forget.
Good & Bad practices when you are doing a UX Case Study
Lets figure out what is your end goal here. What are you trying to show with this portfolio entry? If it is a mere display of your visual design skills, there is no need for debate. You can choose pretty much anything for it. But as a UX Designer your ideal goal must be to express your solid knowledge in problem solving, critical thinking, research, ideation and the implication of your solution. So “pretty much anything” wont do here.
There is a general tendency of students choosing back-end heavy processes as UX projects. The problem with this approach is, since the user’s direct interaction with the backend is always limited to nothing, there isn’t much that you can do as a User eXperience Designer there. Let me try and put this simply. Think about an e-commerce store like amazon. The major operations happen in the back-end (inventory, warehouse, delivery, finances blah blah). The front-end is pretty much a database call. No matter how hard you try to make the design better, you are still limited to a data display. Of course there are highly qualified user experience designers working at amazon to make our experience with the database as friendly as possible. But when we are trying to present ourselves as UX experts- we need something more, don’t we?
💡 Think of a restaurant. You are not directly interacting with the kitchen or the chef. They have butlers for it. No matter how hard the butlers try, if the food is bad, you will hate that experience. Now think of a salon. You are directly interacting with the people who handle the process of cutting your hair. The front-end matters more than the back-end here. This is where a UX designer can directly influence the user’s experience.
Let’s come back to our domain. So what works? Think about apps or services that provides it’s user with a lot of freedom and control (Lets ignore social media applications as it deals with user generated content). Notion for example. Notion is what might look like a note management app but its completely open-ended and gives the user ultimate control over its tools to make it a project management system, knowledge processor, bookmark manager, blogging platform, survey tool and much more. Another example would be Trello, a card based project management tool. The applications of which are endless so that a whole company can be managed with that tool while a third-grader can manage their home works with the same. The scope of a UX Designer is huge in products like this. Here are some suggestions:
Another point to keep in mind while working on a UX Project is to start with a problem statement and not with an idea of solution.
I’ve noticed this in many students that they will come up with an idea of an app or a product that they want to make and becoming obsessed with that idea which makes every other step in UX process secondary to them. They will end up creating what they want and it might work also but the weightage that you gave to the end-user would be negligible as you already had a solution in mind and didn’t want to deviate from it. Passion projects are good but not while showcasing your skill as a UX designer. Start with a problem, understand the problem and (only then) start thinking about the solution.