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Student Stories: Jennifer

Currently studying Front-end Web Development

Q: Tell us about yourself

My name is Jennifer. I am a UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designer. In 2017, I finished my studies in Print and Media Technology in Berlin, Germany. Before that I made an apprenticeship as a Media Designer in Germany, with the specialisation in Print Design.

Since the beginning of my studies, I am going through a transition from Print Design (typography, color management) to Media Design (app design, wireframing). I had some basic programming courses in my studies and are since then eager to learn more about coding.

In Hong Kong, I started my journey as a freelancer and consultant. I eventually became a full-time employee with one of my clients, and my boss recommended the Front-end Web Development program at Altcademy. He suggested this course for my future career path.

Q: How do you like learning online?

I am surprised by how fast my mentor answers my questions and how reachable he is. I like that I can study in my own rhythm. Also, I like that mentors will actively poke me if I stop studying, so I don’t feel like I am studying alone.

When it comes to learning online, Altcademy is better than I expected. I can ask questions anytime. I can reach my mentors easily. It’s important to have the confidence that someone will help you when you learn coding.

The only problem is to find time in my daily routine. I am working full-time, and to concentrate after work on the course is quite tiring. So I try to stand up earlier and to make 1 hour of course before going to work, but also that takes a lot of discipline. If deadlines on work get tough, I am not able to do the course during some weeks.

But I realized now that I can take my own time, and if I don’t finish the course within the 6 predefined months, that this is not a bad thing. I can learn when I have the time, and my mentor will always be reachable for me.

When it comes to doing the assignments for the course, I recommend you to find a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit down and focus.

Q: How does coding help you with your UX / UI Design work?

The program really helps me to get a holistic understanding and global picture of a tech product.

In the past, I sometimes need to ask an engineer whether my design is feasible for implementation. After learning how to code HTML and CSS (and Bootstrap), I can communicate better with engineers and understand what it takes to implement a (my) design.

Also, this knowledge helps me to give better feedback to engineers. For example, I can now open the Inspector in Chrome Browser and try out different paddings, colors, fonts, etc. directly in the code. Then, I can provide a specific number on sizing or specifications for a component to the front-end developers.

As a designer, I really care about details. I pay attention on typographies, color schemes, white spaces and the tiny mini details that come with a website or software design.

I realized now that it’s difficult for a front-end developer to keep all this details in mind and to take care of them. They need to focus on other things. As the designer I need to review my implemented designs, to be assure that the details are right.

Also, I learnt that certain designs are more expensive to implement than others. As I understand the technology and costs better, I can make more appropriated design decisions to help my developers implement easier.

I think engineers and designers should understand about each other’s work and process more together. There is still a big gap in the handover from design to implementation.

Q: What's your long-term goal?

I think that a good UX Designer needs to understand the whole global picture of a system (front-end, back-end, data, technology, business and user). If you want to design the whole system, you have to understand all the parts of the system (eg. How is the data getting into the system?).

I am looking forward to have more responsibilities, and I would like to become a project manager in the future. Leveraging my core skills in design and understandings in coding, I can plan and design a product with better development time and cost estimation.

I’d also like to share my knowledge and be a Mentor in UX / UI Design, which I got the opportunity to do in the new Betatron Cohort (Startup Accelerator) starting end of March 2019.

Here is my portfolio website (it was one of the final assignments of the Altcademy Front-end Course): https://jennifer-portfolio.netlify.com/

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"Knowing how to code makes you a better designer!"

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