I’m finally at the end; the last course in the Google UX Design Professional Certificate offered by Coursera. In the seven course program, I have completed six, which means I’m at the finish line now with: Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs.
In Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs students continue learning about designing effective user experiences with the design of a dedicated mobile app and responsive website focused on social good.
I’m happy that this is the last course. It’s been a great program so far and I’ve learned a lot, but I am ready to take a break from school for a bit and focus on other things, like working on my portfolio, or just binge watching a new TV show.
I’ve already reviewed the first six courses in the UX Design Professional Certificate. You can check out my reviews here:
- Course 1: Google’s Foundations of UX Design – Coursera Course Review
- Course 2: Start the UX Design Process – Coursera Course Review
- Course 3: Build Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes – Course Review
- Course 4: Conduct UX Research and Test Early Concepts – Course Review
- Course 5: Create High-Fidelity Designs and Prototypes in Figma – Course Review
- Course 6: Responsive Web Design in Adobe XD – Coursera Course Review
Responsive Web Design in Adobe XD is broken up into six weeks:
Week 1: Starting the UX design process: empathize, define, ideate
Week 2: Creating wireframes and low-fidelity prototypes
Week 3: Creating mockups and high-fidelity prototypes
Week 4: Designing a complementary responsive website
Week 5: Building a professional presence
Week 6: Finding a UX job
Week 1: Starting The UX design Process: Empathize, Define, Ideate
In week one of Design a User Experience for Social Good, students are introduced to the idea of social good, and what that actually looks like in the real world. Next, we are prompted, using sharpen.design, to choose our project for this course. This is very similar to the last course, where we designed a fully responsive website from start to finish, but with a different topic. So let’s choose a topic now.
It didn’t take long for me to find a project that I liked the sound of: Design a way to help tutor teenagers in creativity.
With this topic, I feel like I could do something really fun visually for the branding, and create a fun and easy to use experience that teenagers would be happy to engage with.
Next we cover progressive enhancement and graceful degradation; both of which sound much fancier and more technical than they actually are. Progressive enhancement means starting with the design for the smallest screen, then designing larger sizes after. Graceful degradation is the opposite; starting with the design of a desktop screen and adapting the smaller screen designs after.
Then we discuss designing for different screen sizes, which I feel like we’ve already covered since we designed for different screen sizes in the last course. Next we get some new terms to remember regarding designing for different screen sizes: The 4 Cs, which are Consistency, Continuity, Context, and Complementary. Afterwards students are shown some of the main differences between dedicated mobile app design and responsive web app design.
This first week feels long. Next we’re asked to start the empathize part of our site design, where we try to empathize and understand the user as best as possible by creating personas, user stories, user journey maps, problem statements, ideating design solutions, and completing a competitive audit. Basically all the user research stuff.
There is no project due for this week, although there is a rather annoying quiz that requires you have been keeping pretty good notes throughout the entire program. I took the quiz the first time and got one question wrong, so I wrote down the incorrect question (which had two answers that could be correct), and did the quiz again. I got the same question, this time I put down the other answer that could be correct. Somehow it was still wrong. None of the other answers made sense, so I’ll have to stick to my less than perfect score. Not cool.
Week 2: Creating Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes
In week two of Design a User Experience for Social Good students get to start designing paper wireframes, digital wireframes, then a low-fidelity prototype, which will need to be tested. The results from the test will actually be the main project due for this week.
First, we start off with creating a research plan, then conducting a usability study. Then we gather what we learned, create an affinity diagram, then revise our designs based on the feedback. It’s actually a decent amount of work for a single week; especially for anyone still learning the software.
This week took me about three days, most of which was spend on the actual design of the app.
Week 3: Creating Mockups and High-Fidelity Prototypes
In week three of Design a User Experience for Social Good students review some visual design basics and principles, then start refining their app designs to turn them into high-fidelity mockups, then prototypes. After this, students are encouraged, again, to do a usability test on their app.
And that’s it! It’s a lot of work, but it’s all stuff students have done before. At the end of this week there’s a pretty tough quiz on basically everything we’ve reviewed this week. This week actually went by pretty quick, and I was able to do it in about a day.
Week 4: Designing a Complementary Responsive Website
In week four of Design a User Experience for Social Good students start to design the website that goes with the app designs they previously made. There is a lot to do this week. Students have to create a site map for their website, produce another round of sketches, and finish every single aspect of this latest project so there are finished high fidelity prototypes for the mobile app version and website version of the site.
Once all that is done, students need to conduct another usability study on those designs. Then revise the designs again based on that feedback. Once all that is done, students present a case study with everything they’ve done. Yikes. All this in a single week?
I worked pretty much solid for an entire day on the case study deck, and managed to complete this week in about two days total. Then I got to review some student work. That didn’t go so well.
Not one. Not a single project was in the correct format. For whatever reason, students kept submitting their assignments as PowerPoint documents rather than PDF. I double-checked the submission requirements, which very clearly asked for PDFs. I reviewed six assignments (out of the required three), hoping to get a good one, and then gave up. Wow. Anyway, on to week five!
Week 5: Building a Professional Presence
In week five of Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs students start the ‘prepare for jobs’ part by learning about UX portfolios and how to make one using a website builder like Wix, Squarespace, or Webflow. Since I already have a portfolio website (sarahhubbard.ca), I won’t be using any of these ones.
Next we talk about some tips for having a good portfolio website, how to establish your personal brand, and how to write for your portfolio site. Then students are encouraged to start sharing their work on social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, in addition to Medium, Dribble, and Behance. Students are asked to then create a LinkedIn profile, as well as a Behance profile. That feels like a bit much for beginner UX designers.
We’re even introduced to the concept of imposter syndrome, which is actually really great. I wish we covered that when I went to design school because every single designer deals with it.
This week ends with a quiz that will be pretty simple if you’ve taken good notes or have already been in the design industry for awhile. This week took me a little over an hour to complete.
Week 6: Finding a UX job
In the last, very long week of Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs, (which is also the very last week in the entire program), students learn how to find a job in UX and finalize their UX portfolio.
First we learn about the different types of jobs in UX, then students are shown how to publish their case study work to their portfolios and how to tailor their portfolio to the job they’re applying for… which is something I’ve never done once in my career. Though I do tailor my resumes to specific jobs. But how do you tailor your portfolio to a specific job when you only have one portfolio but you’re applying to more than one job?
Next students start learning about how to interview for a UX job; though the process discussed here is likely more about what the process is at Google, not what it will be like everywhere. Not all interviews start with a phone call interview first, and not all job interviews have multiple rounds. You also might not be asked to complete a design exercise first, as the instructor suggests. In fact, in many cases, needing to do work before even getting the job is a pretty big red flag. But to be fair, if you were trying to get a job at Google, these are the hoops you would have to jump through to get in the door.
One of the best tips from this week is to get to know the company you’re applying for really, really well before applying, and especially before an interview.
This is a good way to figure out if a company is even worth your time or not. Know what the company offers in terms of products or services, how they actually make money, what their online presence is like, and if they have any reviews on places like Glassdoor.
The rest of this week goes over more about interviewing for jobs, like how to prepare for interview questions, how to come up with an elevator pitch, and how to tackle a whiteboard interview.
Students are even introduced to an online tool called Interview Warmup, which helps users to practice for an interview in their chosen field by analyzing a typed-in answer to common interview questions. Despite the questions being very generic, this is actually pretty cool.
Then students are introduced to the idea of freelancing. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I do not recommend freelancing for new UX or graphic designers who are brand new to the industry, or have no other relevant work experience. You need a few years, at least, learning from other people, on the job, before you can even begin to grasp all the challenges that come with freelancing or running your own business. But to help with this, the instructor does go over how to create a business plan.
So as you may have guessed, the final project for this week is to share your portfolio; although, I’m taking a very simple approach with it. I’m not adding the case studies to my actual portfolio just yet, because I will format them in a very different way. Unfortunately, for grading, I need to format them in a very specific way as per the course requirements; so I’m just creating a single page on my portfolio that is linked to the three different case study pdfs. Basically, I’m designing my portfolio for the user; who in this case is the other students taking this course who just want to quickly make sure I have all the necessary pieces in my portfolio in order to grade it.
We’re oddly asked to include our contact information and resume in our portfolios, and if we don’t include it we lose marks. So much for user privacy? I’m using a fake email and phone number on mine because it’s ridiculous that we’re required to share our contact info with other students. I’m not currently looking for work, so my email and contact info isn’t on my website already; and I always send my resume separately to a potential employer.
Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare For Jobs – In Summary
Well it’s been quite a lot of work so far, but I’m finally done all seven courses in this certificate program. This last course wasn’t particularly difficult, but there was a ton of work involved, and if I didn’t have the prior design and web experience I have, I don’t think I could have done any of this in a reasonable time frame.
Overall I think this was a great program. I learned a ton of stuff about UX that is actually used in the real world, because the course was given by Google and not an academic institution. But to get the most out of this program, just like with anything, you have to give it your all. There were far too many students, whose assignments I graded, that clearly put in as little effort as they physically could.
My main issue with this program was how difficult it was to properly grade other student’s assignments because the grading requirements only seemed to care that one aspect of an assignment was physically present, not whether it was actually appropriate to the assignment or of any decent level of quality. For example, I graded many students who submitted every part of a presentation, but none of the parts made sense together or were even remotely good. But the grading rubric made it so they got full marks, simply because those parts of the presentation were physically there.
Regardless, the Google UX Design Professional Certificate was a great course and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about user experience design.
Have you taken Design a User Experience for Social Good? Or are you interested in taking it as part of the UX program? Is there anything you want to know about the program that I haven’t addressed here? Let me know in the comments below 🙂