CUNY

Equipping future User Experience Designers with a practical set of skills

Industry
  • Higher Education

Services
  • User Experience Design Instruction

Deliverables
  • Curriculum Development

  • Workshop Instruction

Background

Launched in 2017, The City University of New York (CUNY) TechWorks program is a US federally funded initiative aimed to connect underrepresented and low-income New Yorkers to the growing number of opportunities in NYC’s thriving tech sector.

We worked together with CUNY to develop the curriculum for the User Experience Design Program, and one of our own — Husam Machlovi — has been serving as Faculty Instructor for the program since 2018.

CUNY Husam of With Pulp


What we did

  • Curriculum development
  • Human-centered design instruction
  • Visual design instruction
  • Coaching and mentoring

Results

1st Accredited UX Course

We developed a design curriculum that lead to the first accredited User Experience design course for the City University of New York

It was a pleasure having Husam Machlovi as a faculty. Husam has been a faculty who has taught our Human-center design and Visual Design courses. He has been creative, thoughtful, mindful and passionate about teaching our students. Many students have learned so much from him and he has truly grown our students into the professionals they deserve to be.

Bryan Sanchinell

Director of User Experience for CUNY TechWorks


Program Strategy

Going into this project we knew we wanted to develop an educational program that was pragmatic.

User Experience design is a rapidly evolving practice. Given there are new ways of doing things constantly emerging, how do we equip aspiring designers with an education that lasts?

In the real world, we learn on the go. Most of the time when we’re designing, we’re sifting through forums, jumping around in a YouTube video or rubber-duck’ing our way out of design hurdles and challenges. Can we design the courses in a way that models this reality?

This lead to the key goals of the curriculum:

  • Cover only the most effective UX design principles and tools
  • Each class should be a workshop that emphasizes problem solving and collaboration

CUNY TechWorks Workshop


A Well-balanced Design Curriculum

The program was divided into 2 courses: Human-Centered Design and Visual Design. Each course spanned 12 workshop sessions, and the sessions were joined together in a way that most closely modeled the end-to-end user experience design process.

Across User Research, Information Architecture, User Interface Design and Prototyping, the course material focused on just the 20% of principles and tools that gave designers the most leverage. The goal was to equip students with the mindsets and tools that help them solve the majority of design scenarios they would come across, and to prevent intimidation. Design is meant to be a fun, deeply reflective process.

In every workshop, students would apply their learnings through real-world exercises like:

  • Re-designing a donation flow for a non-profit organization
  • Product design of a Mobile app that helps users list and rent out properties
  • Conceptualizing a new kind of political discussion app
  • Strategy, information architecture, UI design, prototyping and presentation of an app or website of their choosing

CUNY Student example sketches

CUNY Student example low-fidelity

CUNY Student example user flow


A Practical Design Education

We believe that what separates the good User Experience designers from the great ones is their communication skills. Great user experience designers are able to collaborate across disciplines and they can communicate the value of their work.

To practice collaboration, students were asked to participate in various individual and group exercises like:

  • Writing about their favorite designs and why
  • Defining design problem statements and features
  • Role-playing in group design projects
  • Presenting their design work
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • To help students better communicate the value of their work, students were asked to develop their own portfolio. This had the benefit of asking students to reflect on:

    • Their past experience and how it can augment UX design
    • What they love about UX design
    • Their ideal customers
    • Their unique selling proposition
    • Their own brand personality and identity

    CUNY Student example website

    CUNY Student example portfolio website

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