Meet the designers of our UX curriculum
Jason: My name is Jason Walzer. I’m a UX Design Instructor at CodeCraft, but I’m also a UX Manager and Design Lead at Google.
Chris: I’m Chris Alvarez, I’m a UX Designer, [I] have been for about ten years now, I’ve worked for product companies, internally, and also with consultancies.
Nikki: My name is Nikki Pfarr, I am a UX Researcher and Strategist. I got my start as a UX Designer, actually, working at Google and I went back to graduate school to focus a little bit more on the research and strategy portions of the UX process.
Jason: The other instructors and I really put a lot of thought into creating this curriculum, and we made sure that we brought our different perspectives to the curriculum itself.
Designed by experts to prepare you for a real-world UX design career
Nikki: We put a lot of time into designing a curriculum that would prepare students for real-world UX roles. We wanted to think a lot about how we could tackle the entire UX process and not just focus in on one sliver of the process, which is sometimes what you get when you look at some of these boot camp curriculums. So for us it was really important that we looked at everything from competitive research, to market research, and user research, all the way through ideation, building the actual user interface and user experience, and increasing the fidelity up to that final interactive prototype level.
Jason: I think a lot of UX bootcamp programs nowadays—especially ones that are given online only—tend to focus really on the tools that people use. So, what are the tools and the software programs that they use to create the UX design definition… that’s great and that’s part of the curriculum here as well, however we really expanded out and approach things from a higher level, especially in the beginning. So we teach our students how to approach user research [to] get that foundational understanding, [then] we help them explore and collaborate with other folks on a team, whether it’s engineers [or] product managers, and then we get into the actual tools, and how do they define their design definition and move forward.
Nikki: The goal is that they get familiarity with the different methods that are part of all of the stages of the process, but then they can also decide what they’re most interested in and what they want to dig down deeper into. So we’re here to help them figure out what they love the most, and then also to connect them with the resources they might need later on to maybe go more in-depth into certain areas. So not everyone has to be a soup-to-nuts UX research practitioner—that’s certainly a valuable type of role, but you might find yourself more drawn to UX research, or UX writing, or maybe the visual design aspect and that’s great too. …and we want to make sure we’re exposing students to the breadth, so they can decide where they want to go deeper into the process.
Chris: There’s a lot of things that you can’t get out of an online course—a lot of that is the personal interactions that you have on a real UX project, and that’s really hard to imitate online. So we try and provide a place where we have those interactions in place in the classroom, and we have a lot of dynamics back and forth between the instructors, so it feels more like a real type of environment for learning.
Real world projects
Nikki: One of the things I’m excited about when it comes to CodeCraft’s curriculum is the fact that we’re working with local clients here in the Boulder community. So students get hooked up with a client organization that has some type of user experience need, they get to go through the class with a focus on a project that helps solve that problem for a real world organization.
Jason: The idea of having students do a project with the actual client is really rooted in the fact that we have to be dealing with real people with real problems, and… those people are not just the users but also the client, so they have real business problems, and when you’re able to work with a real client you get that deeper understanding of what they’re trying to solve and how you can help them.
Nikki: This means that we’re not only teaching fundamental UX skills and methods, but we’re also teaching the intricacies and the nuances associated with interacting with the client. …how do you tell the story of what you’re doing? How do you present your work to your stakeholders or to your client team?
Jason: So as a hiring manager myself, I know that companies and organizations are looking for UX designers that have a wide range of skill sets. Whether it’s user research, visual design, interaction design… and what I think CodeCraft is giving these students is a leg up in the industry.