While comparing various design bootcamps, Bonnie Sweet was drawn to Springboard because of the opportunity to participate in an Industry Design Project. This project is a cornerstone of Springboard's UX design programs and provides a hybrid learning and hands-on work experience as a team. During this learning stage, students are matched with a company to complete a 40-hour project that solves a real business problem.
As a part of the Industry Design Project, Springboard students:
Sweet was placed on an Industry Design Project project working with London-based online e-commerce education site Mrs. Wordsmith, along with two other Springboard students. “The company produces a lot of workbooks and worksheets and resources for kids,” Sweet explains.
“As part of their offering, Mrs. Wordsmith offers a free resources library where they’ve developed a treasure trove of assets, including a specialized digital curriculum based on the science of reading," Bonnie explained. "Our task was to redesign their free resources page to reflect this offering in a more enticing way by enhancing it from being a simple search bar.”
Sweet is now a full-time freelance designer. After deciding that she wanted a change from her previous career path—working as a creative graphic designer at a licensed board game company—Sweet used the experience she gained through Springboard’s UI/UX Design Career Track to jumpstart her new career in design. In our conversation below, we learn more about Sweet’s experience on the Industry Design Project, and how it contributed to her Springboard experience as a whole.
Before Springboard, I had been working as a creative graphic designer at a licensed board game company for five years, first working on licensed versions of things like Monopoly, Clue, and Risk. Then in my final years with the company, I pivoted more to focusing on original hobby games, during which I dove deeper into solving specific user problems by relying on research and user testing.
The research process got me more interested in UX because I found that I liked going beyond graphic design and more into the intention behind the design altogether. I’d never even heard of UX, and then when I discovered it, it just seemed like it combined all my interests.
There is a visual component—but that’s balanced out with a lot of research. I am also a huge people person, so being able to work with people more was important to me. Finding a career path that brought all those things together was exciting, and so I started looking for ways to enter the field.
I was exploring different bootcamps and it was a tough search because there are so many different options. But after doing the research, I noticed a huge difference in Springboard’s price, making the ultimate choice pretty clear.
Additionally, I especially liked the promise of a mentor and unlimited mentor calls, and I became really excited about the Industry Design Project project and the job guarantee.
Working with different designers as well as other team members was super exciting—everyone on my team was passionate about the project.
We started by doing a bunch of sketches of what the landing page could look like to generate more feedback from Mrs. Wordsmith’s team. We briefly scanned the competitors but then quickly moved right into the ideation phase and brainstormed solutions for all the potential things a user might want to explore on the site.
Then, we got some feedback from Mrs. Wordsmith on our sketches. Once we had that, we moved into wireframing various ideas, focusing our attention on multiple rounds of user testing that would help guide us around making iterations based on the user experience. Together, our goal was to add in an element of additional seamlessness for users accessing the site that would enable Mrs. Wordsmith to more effectively showcase their curriculum. Ultimately, we settled on creating a few options for high-fidelity prototypes Mrs. Wordsmith could choose from.
I think the biggest challenge my teammates and I had was a lack of specific client constraints—the client left the overall task to redesign a webpage fairly open-ended.
With Springboard’s help, we were able to incorporate both traditional and more innovative UX practices as we focused on building out an empathy map to help move towards more cohesive site navigation.
I think the Industry Design Project was invaluable because it challenges us to work in response to outside factors that aren’t always going to be in your control. This calls back to the design process, of course, but also the job search overall. Companies will often have certain guidelines and constraints that will likely affect the process you’re most used to, and you’ll have to think quickly on your feet to be able to pivot in response and choose the right tools from your toolbox.
Be honest with the client and always communicate. In the beginning, my group started sketching and coming up with ideas, and after the first two meetings we had with the clients, we realized that wasn’t working. It felt like we were all students coming to our teacher asking for feedback. It quickly became clear that we needed a much more unified team approach.
We needed to pivot, which meant sitting down together and coming up with something cohesive, which was a really good transition for us because, at Springboard, we were all used to working independently. But when you’re working with a client, you’ll likely have to use a much more team-based approach.
The Industry Design Project showed me how valuable it is to see how UX works in the real world and how not every project is going to take the same approach. When you’re working on a real project, you’re seeing you have to look at your whole toolbox and choose. What’s going to benefit this goal in particular?
In my opinion, the key to becoming a great designer is figuring out the best times to use certain strategies you’re well-versed in since each project is going to go differently and call for different solutions.