Semester Final Reflection

When I first signed up for the class, I thought that I would be working on creating UIs and conducting A/B tests. Needless to say, I was far off. What I had not expected was that we would be creating entire user experiences, and alongside ID students. Being a part of this UX class has broadened my perspective about what is necessary to collaborate and build a successful, user-centric product, not simply an interface or app. It has incited me to question every decision made, and to make user-informed decisions whenever possible. Further, it has pressed me to research and figure out whether a technological feat is possible, and to communicate the reasons to someone from a non-CS background. Our class discussions about using machine learning (ML) as a design material remains one of the most interesting discussions I had in the first half of the semester. I had always seen ML as an additional feature to a product rather than an integral functionality in creating user-adaptive devices and software. I wonder how that discussion might have changed in light of recent Facebook privacy issues. Overall, this class has ripened my entrepreneurial spirit due to its focus on entire products, and cross-disciplinary interactions, not just focusing on the software implementation side.

As for the final project itself, I had not expected the breadth of experiences I would gain. Again, I thought I would just be implementing designs alongside the ID students. Probably one of the most daunting aspects about our final project for me was collecting user feedback. Finding parents to talk to and initiating the interviews did always incite some nervousness, but every parent I talked expressed extreme interest in Grocery Hop, and even shared that they thought it might be worthwhile to see it further after the class is done. That feedback really invigorated me and made me want to seek out what other parents thought. An unexpectedly difficult part about the project was trying providing the ID students the information they needed to help me implement the app. Since I was unfamiliar with both the programming language JavaScript and the framework React Native prior to this class, I was learning everything on the fly. Thus, I needed to learn how to implement components (or at least approximations of them) rather quickly, or otherwise spend a long time figuring out how to get exactly what I wanted. For example, it took me about 6 hours to understand how animations worked within React… just for a 5-second loading screen. In addition to that, I would sometimes have to contradict what I previously said to the ID people, as I was learning the technology more intimately. For example, separating the clickable and interactive components of a screen from the background, rather than having a single screen with everything already on it. So, I was able to become more knowledgeable about UIs and mobile app development along the way.

While in the end I never fully designed UIs, or conducted A/B tests on interfaces, I have witnessed myself grow in two valuable skills. First, working with new technologies has forced me to learn how to learn unfamiliar tech and concepts (and an estimation on how long it will take me), as well as troubleshooting my code which will inevitably never work the first time. Second, I have learned (more or less) how to go about building a concept into a product or future business, and who to recruit along the way. I definitely plan on putting these skills and knowledge to use in my future endeavors.

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