Gaining in-demand UX skills to build more user-focused technologies. Meet Charleen.
Working in Quality Assurance means that users are always front of mind for Charleen Cassar Alpert. From designing to testing and optimising technical products, her role depends on understanding and anticipating the needs and behaviours of users. When ICE Malta launched the Professional Diploma in UX Design, Charleen leapt at the chance to dive into a course so closely related to her field of work and to build new technical skills. This is her story.
I have always been fascinated by technology and the rapid way in which it keeps growing, so as an end-user myself I’m really interested in the end-product. QA is the stage designed to catch any errors before the product is released. Being a perfectionist, most of my job satisfaction comes from the fact that I need to make sure that any software making its way to our clients operates properly (preferably bug-free), complies with the user requirements, and is also intuitive.
A Quality Assurer must also consider the perspective of the user, especially when it comes to the way in which the user interacts with the software and vice versa, and that’s where UX comes in. Seeing the course description immediately piqued my interest since it relates closely to my field, so I reached out to ICE Malta and within a couple of days I was enrolled in the first ever UX class being provided by this professional institution.
Personally I found the course delivery quite smooth-sailing! The module and project structure was provided to us from day one, so I already had a timeline of what was to come and what I should prepare for. Even though there is a lot of material to go through and a number of projects which need to be built, the process never felt taxing. I must say that overall it provided a great amount of satisfaction, especially when building the final prototype and seeing it work.
As for the tutor, he is a true professional in his field. Not only did he provide us with clear, easy to follow course content (together with extra reading material in books or online) but he was also able to draw parallels with situations from everyday life and how they can be applied to making software more intuitive and user friendly. He offered a wealth of insight backed up by his many years of experience in UX, and was always happy to help out with any queries which we had be it related to the course content itself, the portfolio, or in what ways this qualification can help us advance in our career.
Yes, definitely. I work a full-time job and also have a son who was 3 years-old at the time so flexibility was an important factor for me to be able to take up this course. Moreover, I found out I was pregnant around the same time I applied for the course, and at no point did I feel like I wouldn’t manage! Lectures were delivered online and recorded, so one could access them later. The team at ICE were always very supportive too and they are always ready to offer as much flexibility as possible since they truly understand that life can get in the way of plans sometimes.
Understanding the importance of research (together with its analysis) has helped me become more involved in the process from the beginning. Also, learning about design principles and interactions has enabled me to provide better feedback when it comes to the design itself. But most importantly, learning how to use software such as Figma means that I can now present my ideas to management and to the development team in a more concrete way.
One of the great things about UX design is that there’s so much to learn and explore. I don’t think mastering the fundamentals is the end of the story – one would need to constantly upskill and keep an eye out for the latest trends. I’m a very keen learner and always look out for ways in which I can improve, and so this field in itself will keep pushing me to do so. Furthermore, I would be interested in expanding my knowledge and skill set by taking up UI (User Interface) design since software aesthetic and design is something which appeals to me as well.
I’d say go for it! The job market is ripe for UX professionals, and the good thing about this field is that one uses a vast number of soft skills in order to do the job. Gaining this qualification in UX proves that you’re capable of applying these skills, and working through the course projects allows you to compile your first very own portfolio. Ultimately, the role of user experience is to identify user’s needs first and foremost through research in order to create the ideal end solution – and this is something that technology in all sectors will always need.