I love the excitement and satisfaction of using my experience and ‘training’ to alter the outcome of a web-based interaction. This feeling never tires and it certainly never looses its ‘hit’ with me. You may have realised I have a passion for designing satisfying web-based interactions between users and applications.
Over the last two years I’ve been sponging UX (User Experience) information everywhere. I’ve used conferences, books, meet-ups, videos, blog posts, articles, soaking up as much information as possible. I’ve now reached a point where I need another element – a professional attribute – in the form of a qualification. An education that ties all the pieces together and provides me with certification and industry recognition.
Practicing user-experience design (UxD) presents itself in many forms (Interaction Design/IxD, User Experience/UX, User-Centered Design/UCD, Usability, Information Architecture/IA, etc.) so trying to choose where and what specifically to study was a challenge. My options included: self-study, RCA Interaction Design School, HFI’s UCA course, and many US-based schools like School of Design CarnegieMellon, teaching UX at a very high level. I did some qualitative research with UX professional friends to better understand my options and make an informed descision. Finally, I decided to apply to UCLIC (UCL Interaction Centre), to complete a MSc in HCI and ergonomics as it seems the best choice.
There’s an intake in September so I’ve had to collate my documentation and references. With no undergraduate degree (I have a non-related Diploma in ALS), I’ve had to rely on my related work experience, good references as well as a compelling personal statement. A personal statement requires me to complete my academic interests and reasons for applying. I need to detail my career objectives and any non-academic achievements. I also need to include any relevant experience at specialist workshops or short courses too.
So, here goes. (please feel free to comment if you think I can improve on this. Thanks.)
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My specific academic interests:
- Human behaviour – how users interact with applications using available tools
- Visual design – how users feel (emotional persuasion) and how clear the application is use
- Heuristic analysis – assessing how the application caters for the user within an understood framework
- Affordances – the perceived action of a visual design artifact (button, colour, motion, symbol)
- Commercial benefit – fusing the application intentions, user needs and outcomes together
- Design patterns – design efficiency and optimisation with understood patterns
- Social design – understanding how users interact in a social context
- Communicating design – using rhetoric to effectively communicate meaning and semiotic language through signage and symbols.
My reasons for applying:
I’d like to apply to complete a MSc HCI with ergonomics to gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of human-computer interactions, including ergonomics. I want to use my existing learnings and experiences with new course learnings culminating in a structured framework. Furthermore, I’d like to develop methodologies enabling me to research, understand and design HCI systems.
Career objectives and any non-academic achievements
My primary objective is to become HCI qualified to give my IxD career a knowledge boost it deserves (and needs). I’d like to introduce UX into my corporate culture where I can inject these learnings into the interfaces/applications we design and build. Also, I’d like to influence the design of our business models – more focus user needs (with business needs too). I’d like to help steer the transition of our first generation web culture into a user-focused second generation culture.
Over recent months I’ve been involved in HCI-related projects. Here are two examples of projects I’ve personally completed:
Project example 1: UX design process introduced into a web portal project. Here’s an example of an interactive (tactile) wireframe. See Wireframes Magazine article for more details.
Project example 2: Research and heuristic evaluation of a re-design project for a HTML newsletter.
Finally, I hope that with my work-related experience and existing knowledge that you accept me on the HCI and ergonomics programme in September. I look forward to hearing from the Interaction Centre.
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