Prior to Wyncode, the bulk of my professional experience had been in the youth development and education sector. I was a full-time mentor and Program Manager for a non-profit in Boston, followed by a move to the classroom in Boston and later Miami. I am a proud Teach for America Alum (2014 cohort), having taught two years of high school history in Miami Gardens.
During the summers of 2016 and 2017, I participated in Teach For America’s Start-up Summer Program, where I had the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the entrepreneurial field. Later, I took on internships with Jacq’s Organics and Venture Hive, which helped to solidify the desire to follow an entrepreneurial path. Also, in May of 2017, my team was nominated as Finalists at FIU’s Start Up Weekend, an annual competition powered by Google for Entrepreneurs.
Then, I realized I was ready for a change. So, when I heard about Wyncode from the former Director of Admissions, Matt Campbell - who was a fellow Teach for America alum - I decided to take jump at the opportunity: 10 weeks of Immersive UX/UI curriculum.
At Wyncode, I completed 360 hours of design methodologies, wireframing, UX strategy and framework, user personas, prototyping, interaction design, mobile design and related technologies such as Sketch and InVision.
The experience was expansive. The two greatest insights that helped me at Wyncode - and continue to serve me in my current role - are people skills (aka communication) and research skills. Working in the UX/UI and Product Design field, it’s essential to be able to relate and positively communicate across company teams and customer bases. The ability to effectively source information in a timely manner has also proven to be instrumental.
The biggest lesson I learned during the 10 weeks at Wyncode Academy was to be patient with yourself, your classmates and to trust the process. You WILL NOT become a UX/UI expert in 10 weeks, You will be equipped with a foundation and a set of tools with which you can carry on your new journey. It’s entirely up to you, however, if you choose to continue practicing and honing your craft beyond the course.
My favorite aspect about Wyncode is its expansive network. To be able to tap into such a far-reaching, well-respected network is a game changer!
In collaboration with Wyncode, I was invited by the City of Miami to revamp their online permitting process.
The City of Miami wanted feedback on their new beta website and the older website iBuild from local small business owners through user testing, with a focus on the various existing permitting processes.
I worked with a partner to conduct a UX audit on the existing site and the beta version.
My primary role was UX Researcher.
As a class, we presented our findings to city officials.
This is a breakdown of the process and approach we took for this project:
My Problem Statement
The City of Miami Beta website is intended to make the permitting process easier for users.
We have observed that the current permit process isn’t meeting the needs of small business owners, which is causing a financial strain, anxiety and frustration.
How might we improve our permitting services so that our customers are more successful based on ease of use, overall customer satisfaction and confidence in the online process?
Once we crafted the problem statement, we moved on to listing a set of assumptions.
In Lean UX, assumptions are designed to generate common understanding around an idea that enables everyone to get started.
I led a mini workshop with another team in the class. First I stated the problem and then allowed the teams to brainstorm their ideas for solving the problem. In the process we generated answers to questions that formed our assumptions.
Importance of the Hypothesis
After my partner and I crafted assumptions, it was time to write a hypothesis. The physical act of writing down the hypothesis created a unified approach and a common language for both of us. This happened before either of us drew on a whiteboard or opened Sketch. When done correctly, design becomes a tool to validate or invalidate the hypotheses.
We believe the permitting process can be done in an efficient and simple manner.
We believe if we provide a streamlined and user-centered online experience, there will be an increase in permits granted, leading to economic growth in the city of Miami.
A persona is a representation of a user, typically based off user research and incorporating user goals, needs and interests. Throughout the design process, the persona becomes the voice of the user.
For the City of Miami Brief, my partner and I created a simple persona in Sketch (pictured above). Combined with personas from other groups in the class, we then had a human-centered foundation to base our designs on.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
A User Flow is a powerful combination of storytelling and visualization that helps designers identify opportunities to create new and improved experiences for their users.
The user flow exercise offers a holistic view of the user’s experience, making it an essential piece in the design process.
I led the class in a user flow exercise (pictured above) in which we mapped out the steps a first time user would take to apply for a permit to get a door/window.
Later on, my partner and I created a User Journey Map on Sketch (pictured below) that allowed us to dissect and understand every touchpoint and action. We used simple smiley face icons to designate emotions. At the heart of a user journey is what the user is doing, thinking, and feeling during each step.
Information Architecture (IA)
IA is the structure for a website, application, or other digital product that allows users to answer the following questions: Where am I? What’s here? Where else can I go?
What we Proposed
My partner and I proposed a streamlined site map for the City of Miami website. We considered our heuristics, social listening and data findings, persona and user testing results when drafting a new sitemap.\
The Power of UX
Having the opportunity to work on a real-world project while studying UX/UI was an invaluable experience. The chance to interact, interview and gather important information from actual users was impactful and rewarding. More than any class lecture or homework assignment, this project with the City of Miami taught me the true power of UX in the design process- putting the user at the center and creating around that center.
In the photo below, I am presenting our findings to a room full of city officials, including representatives of the Mayor’s office. The City was for the most part very open to and appreciative of our findings.
Currently I’m working at IntelePeer, a cloud communications company headquartered in Denver, with a satellite office in South Florida. Initially I was hired as a Product Manager intern. After 3 months in that capacity, I was hired full-time as an Associate PM, my current role. IntelePeer is a Communications Platform as a Service, or CPaaS, provider of voice, messaging, automation, applications, APIs, and analytics for enterprises.
I’m currently working on creating user on-boarding experiences for our suite of products, as well as conducting competitive research on an ongoing basis. I am now a multi-talented Junior UX Researcher driven by a passion to design impactful world class digital products.