I learned what UX Design was when I worked as the office admin at a software consultancy and started talking with my colleagues about the work they did. I learned from them about user-centered design, product management techniques, agile, etc. The team there taught me so much and gave me many tools for my UX toolbelt. They referred to “the toolbelt” a lot, and boy oh boy have I found my favorite tool. It’s called OOUX, and I can’t imagine not using this tool for every project I’m ever on. Ever.
If you need a primer on what OOUX is, check out my post here. TL;DR: “OOUX is a method for structuring a problem space that emphasizes the objects, the things, people interact with.” It helps the design/developer team distill what’s really important and build environments in a simpler, more user-friendly way that better matches what user would expect if the environment were in real life. Even if you don’t take the course I’m about to review, I highly recommend learning how to do OOUX and adding it to your toolbox. I’m glad that I took the OOUX Certification course, though, and here’s why:
#1 The course gave me so much more confidence in my skills as a UX designer.
My course project isn’t even polished or shiny, but I’m very proud of it. Getting to see even the unfinished product makes me feel competent and knowledgeable. I felt a similar way when I finished up my part-time General Assembly UX project, but my OOUX course project is a serious level up because it’s focused on a particular skill I’ve conquered and it’s a more fleshed out and more complex project in general (case study coming soon!).
#2 My OOUX course project was put under the microscope!
I already mentioned that my course project was complex, but you need to know that the nature of the course pushed me farther than I wanted to go into the complexity and then I mastered that complexity! I had the foundations of UX Design and had gotten to practice it in the real world already, but the OOUX course pushed me deeper into the minutia of what seasoned design and dev teams need to consider. I felt out of my element at times, but having Sophia and the cohort around me wallowing through the same details helped me press on. I’m glad I stuck with it, because it was all totally doable, regardless of what my worries told me, and now I have a kick-ass project to show what I’ve learned!
#3 Working with Sophia and the others in the cohort was great for collaboration and inspiration.
I was already connected with Sophia through Atlanta’s design network and UX Hustle Club, and I admire her as a designer and mentor. When I heard she would be teaching an in-depth OOUX course, I knew I wanted to take it and absorb all I could from her. The course cohort uses a Mighty Networks forum for submitting and discussing assignments and talking things through with each other, which meant I could receive and give feedback on other students’ projects. I also opted into having a “buddy,” an assigned cohort colleague who was working on a similar project. I was the sole person responsible for my project, and my buddy’s ideas helped me see my problems with fresh eyes and get unstuck.
#4 I have a bit of an edge in the market because I can bring OOUX to the table.
OOUX isn’t very well known or well-practiced just yet, and I’m proud to include it as an automatic part of what I offer when I’m hired for freelance work. It will help me do more meaningful, de-risked work. When talking with a potential client last month, thinking through proposed objects of their project helped me evaluate its complexity and helped me estimate my proposal. That’s just another fun benefit of using OOUX I hadn’t anticipated.
I was a part of Cohort 2 (spring 2020), and Cohort 4 is currently accepting students (I’m typing this on February 8, 2021). Since then, Sophia has incorporated student feedback, critiqued her own work, and refined her course content and format. Lectures will be in recorded video format (a new development), so that she can spend more live time working through assignments and questions with students. Each student also get 2 one-on-one video calls with Sophia to discuss what they’re working through. Those calls helped me zone in on areas that needed more attention and were great opportunities for personalized guidance and encouragement.
Each cohort also has mentors (certified OOUX-ers from past cohorts) who join in on the forum discussions and offer office hour Zoom calls for students. So far, students have been able to sign up for as many calls with as many mentors as they like! (I participated as a mentor in Cohort 3 and enjoyed my time with it.)
I want to stress that I signed up for the course because I still felt new to the field and I believed the course would help me develop my skills and help me “make it” in UX. I was right. This course gave me so much confidence in myself as a designer, and it was a turning point in how I presented myself and in the steps I’ve taken toward starting my freelancing career. I took the course when I still referred to myself as “transitioning to UX,” but when I saw what I was doing in the course, I realized that yeah! I am a UX Designer!
If you’re curious about taking this course, I can unequivocally say that it will do you good, whether you’ve been designing for years (I saw veteran designers struggle and learn alongside me) or if you still feel new. As long as you have a good grasp of the foundations, this course will give you a valuable new process and the tools to apply the simplifying magic of OOUX to your work.
- Block off time on your calendar for this course. I set aside 3–4 evenings each week for lectures and homework, and I was able to complete the course in the recommended 10 weeks. (There’s an included catch up week, by the way, without any new homework assignments.)
- Listen to / read / watch OOUX resources ahead of time. This will help you discern whether this is really something you want to learn and invest in, but it will also prime you to add on to that basic knowledge before starting on the course.
- Ask your employer if they’ll pay for it. If your company offers professional development stipends, this would be a great way to use it. The course costs $1,297, but I do have a $150 referral discount code if you’re interested.
Let me know if you have any questions about the course, my experience as a student, or my experience as a mentor. It was a really good thing for me, and while the UX upskilling, collaboration, and having another course project for the portfolio can be found in other courses, I still stand behind the OOUX certification course as a great one to recommend to anyone interested in growing as a designer.