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Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

By Academy Xi

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UX UI Transform student, Yuka, managed to land herself a coveted role with Westpac before even completing her studies. We had a chat to discover more about her journey in the world of User Experience Design.

Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

Hi Yuka. How much longer have you got to go with your studies?

I’m over half way now in the full-time UX UI Design Transform course with Hayden Peters. I think I have about a month to go.

And you’ve already landed yourself a great job!

Yes, at Westpac. My job title is Service Designer, but it’s a mix of UX, UI, CX and service design. I’m currently working on youth banking. The UX UI Transform course has definitely given me the experience of what an end-to-end project is like. Now being in the workplace I’m learning how to apply it to the job at hand. The scale of the projects I’m working on is huge, but the training has provided me with a strong foundation. Unfortunately because of COVID I haven’t actually been into the office yet.

Hopefully that changes soon. Can you tell us a bit about life before Xi?

I was a university student – I graduated with a Bachelor of Design from UNSW in January this year (2021), majoring in Graphic Design. There was an interaction subject offered during my last year and I thought I’d just give it a try – it was something new. The process was interesting and really different from graphic or fashion design, where you’re given a brief and you do it. 

I was working as a junior print and graphic designer at my local printing shop while I studied and once I had graduated I felt like I was wasting my time. I wanted to advance further into my design career, but I didn’t know how to do it. I needed to do something to make that career shift happen. 

I looked online to see what was available training wise. Initially I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I thought about the interaction course I had done at uni that I really enjoyed, so I thought maybe I could try UX UI Design. 

How did you arrive at choosing Academy Xi for your training?

I decided to go with UX UI Transform at Academy Xi because I had a few friends who recommended this course specifically. I thought you know what, I’m just going to go with it. And here I am now studying – it has been great.

How have you found your training so far? Any highlights?

I was talking to the friends who recommended the course – the first of my friends is now a Product Designer, the course worked well for her and she spoke very highly of her instructor, Hayden. Another friend was doing the same course, part-time.  We were discussing the importance of teachers when you’re training in anything and how you want to have someone who is truly passionate about what they’re teaching – and the difference their enthusiasm can make to your experience. 

So I decided to go for the full-time option and off my friend’s recommendation I wanted to have Hayden as my instructor. I didn’t want to go part-time, I’d already spent three years at university doing my bachelor’s, I was ready to just get into it. 

“I went in with high expectations, which were all met. I totally understand why people recommend this course, and in particular, Hayden.”  – Yuka Mochizuki

With the first project taking place over seven weeks, we were learning about the design process as we were doing the actual assessment, and it has been really helpful. It refreshed my memory and validated a lot of things for me.

How did the job come about while studying?

With the graphic design industry it can be pretty frustrating because there are often roles pitched as ‘junior’ requiring more than two years of experience or skills that aren’t graphic design, like video editing or marketing or social media. I found it really hard to land anything in graphic design because of that. I didn’t want to be the person who did a million things. That’s not what I trained in.

I had been actively looking for jobs for the past two years, while I was studying graphic design at university and working at the print shop. I was searching on all the job sites and LinkedIn, I had all the email notifications set up. I’ve been proactive.

The Westpac role I landed was through Hatch. Each week they load new jobs, you answer some questions and do a small video of yourself. 

Did the training you completed help you land the Westpac job?

Yes, it was a major factor – it absolutely enabled me to get the job with Westpac. When I did the interview with them, I was about 75% through my first project – which was a mobile app for sustainability and recycling and featured a smart bin. 

I was prepared to answer standard interview questions, but the interviewer asked me to walk her through a digital project that I loved. So I was able to use my project. I took her through my work and discussed my design process, explaining that it was not yet complete, but that didn’t matter – she was really impressed with it. 

After a few days she put me in touch with others in her team that whoever would be successful in the interview process would be working with, so I got to talk with them as well. I feel that if it hadn’t been for this project within the UX UI Design Transform course, that I wouldn’t have been able to get the job. It gave me the chance to clearly demonstrate my skills and understanding of the full design process. 

Are you working with any mentors?

I have been paired with a mentor, Vikas Bhutani, through Academy Xi’s Designer-In-Residence program. He’s the CX UX Lead at Kmart and having him as a mentor is great. If I have any questions I note them down and take them to him. And since last year I have a mentor from Canva, as well as Hayden

Any other areas of study that interest you?

I think psychology. Being able to understand people and work with them in general. There are times when it’s really difficult to work with people – having that background would help. My dad’s studying it, so we have chats about different things.

Coming from three different backgrounds, I’m interested to know how culture could impact UX UI. I want to learn different things that can be added to my training.

I have the ambition to learn design outside of Australia too – places like New York or Amsterdam, or even Japan. Different cultures. Once everything is safer and we can travel again and I have a few years of experience, I might delve into that.

Once this course ends I might sign up as a mentor with Academy Xi.

Best of luck with your new role and the rest of your studies, Yuka! We hope you can get into the Westpac office soon (at the time of writing, Sydney was in extended lockdown).

I really find it beneficial – having someone there to guide me, especially if I don’t know how to do a certain thing. They give tips and ideas that you might not have heard of before. 

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Oshi Paranavitane

By Academy Xi

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While studying her Masters in Design, Oshi felt she needed something more. Then she discovered User Experience.

Life before Xi?

I did my Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design and worked in the industry for five years in Sri Lanka. I was an art director in an advertising agency for two years, then moved to a boutique digital agency working in the creative team and eventually became a brand identity designer. After two years working there, I made the move to Australia to join my husband and study my Masters in Design.

During my Masters in Sydney, I took a few units on interaction design and loved it. I would’ve liked to have done more units in this area, but wasn’t able to due to the structure of the university electives, but I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.

What encouraged you to study with Academy Xi?

The Masters in Design felt like it was lacking in terms of industry connections and job opportunities. I needed something more. While I was applying for graphic design jobs here in Sydney, I came across Academy Xi in my social feed – a promotion for the UX UI Design Transform course

After having already done a Bachelors and Masters in Design, the decision to do more study didn’t come lightly. I wanted to make sure that the training I was going to do ticked the right boxes for me and offered what I needed. 

I started researching, read a lot of glowing online reviews about the UX UI Design Transform course, which definitely influenced my decision. This was further reinforced by what I found on LinkedIn – lots of graduates talking so positively about their experiences with Xi in general and specifically their training in UX. I could see there was a strong alumni network, all working in the industry and even more great reviews. 

UX UI Design Transform sounded like it covered everything I was seeking. And it certainly did. 

Were there any training highlights you’d like to mention?

The first few weeks with our instructor Hayden were the main highlight for me. Hayden is amazing! We covered the Double Diamond framework and the entire UX design process with him. The depth he went into and the amount of information he shared with us – it was just so valuable to get that. I knew a little bit about the process from some of the units I took in my Masters degree, but it paled in comparison to the depth of detail provided by Hayden and the overall Xi training. 

Real client projects form a part of the UX UI Design Transform training. Can you share with us your experience of working on these projects?

We did two real client projects and both times we were put into project groups within our cohort – I really enjoyed this hands-on aspect of the training.

Our first project was working with IO Energy, a South Australian energy company. My project team and I worked on the customer sign up journey on their website. It worked out really well for us as a group and our learning and the client was very pleased with the outcome too. It was interesting to learn about the energy sector – so much new information and it’s definitely a sector I’d like to work in. Challenging, interesting and important. 

Doing the real life client projects gave us a genuine idea of what it would be like to work with clients in industries we might not be familiar with. Part of the job is discovering what the organisation or industry is about, understanding the jargon used and navigating how to best serve the needs of the client. This project exposed us to all of those things.

My second project was focusing on Anglicare in Sydney. As I am based in Sydney – I was invited, along with another team member, to actually go to one of the retirement homes in Castle Hill. We met some of the village managers and other staff, had onsite interviews and they took us through some of the processes they use in the centres. It was really nice to be able to conduct on-site research – I very much enjoyed that element of this project.

I also really enjoyed being able to actively apply the Double Diamond design framework to both of these design sprints. We got to see each step of the process in action and test out our new learning and skills. 

Online experience

With my final year of Masters in Design at University, everything went online due to the covid pandemic. Like many other universities and colleges, the transition from face to face learning to online was very quick due to the circumstances. I found that final year of online study to be really isolating and not at all engaging. The class sizes were really big, so it didn’t feel personalised and there just wasn’t the set up for any social interaction or engagement. With a Masters, there is also the fact that you don’t take the same classes as everyone else, so I didn’t get to know anyone I was studying with. It was hard.

Academy Xi online training was completely different. I made so many new connections and I felt a sense of community that I didn’t with university training. The class sizes were small, so we actually got to know each other – it was way more engaging.

My first project group included all Sydney based students, so we met up in person a few times both for our project work and socially – we still keep in contact now that we’ve finished our course. I genuinely feel that I made good friends from the experience. 

At the end of the course we had an online party – we played pictionary together, it was really fun, a great group of people. So despite the lockdown I had a community and really valued the social connection. 

Did you benefit from additional mentorship during your training?

Yes, (my mentor) Anna Paramita – she’s a UX Designer from Melbourne working for Suncorp and is totally amazing. It was very beneficial to have someone already working in the industry who was there to support and encourage me while training. We could really relate to each other’s experiences. I’m quite introverted so making connections isn’t my thing, but I challenged myself during this course to step up and reach out to people, which was new for me but I understand the importance of it. 

Anna recommended some books to read and was generally so supportive – it was a great experience with her, amazing advice. We are keeping in touch and I’m hoping to reconnect with her after the lock down. 

Anna is part of Xi’s Designer-in-Residence program. Read more about the program and how it benefits both Mentors and students.

Career Support 

I am now in the Career Support program where I’ve received guidance on my resume, which is now being shared around the industry contacts by Xi. I’m actively looking for a UX job now and have applied for a couple of positions. I’m open to working freelance, but would like to land an in-house role to start with.  

Ideally I would like to work in a large corporate organisation to begin with, because that way I will be more likely to get to work with a senior UX designer and learn from them on the job, but any UX experience to begin with will be great.

Would you recommend studying UX UI Design with Xi?

Yes, absolutely. Funnily enough, just after I finished my course, I posted on my LinkedIn profile my digital badge that we all received and someone I’m not even connected to randomly messaged me on LinkedIn and asked how I found the experience as they were thinking of studying it too. I would 100% recommend studying UX UI Design Transform at Academy Xi. 

We can’t wait to hear all about the next stage of your journey, Oshi! 

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Keen to study UX UI Design? Whether you’re just starting out your career, want to study part-time, we have several flexible training options. Learn more here

Academy Xi Blog

The 300m Button

By Academy Xi

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The Art of the Microcopy

A UX friend of ours reminded us of the case of the $300 million button, prompting us to think about CTA (call-to-action) buttons (if we don’t think about that enough already). As one of the main elements in bridging that gap between decision-making and a purchasing decision, a science has grown around how a call-to-action button should be designed, displayed, and perhaps most importantly, labeled. More specifically, microcopy. Often times designers have relied on proven messaging, but the best way to optimise is understanding your customer’s behaviour.

f you are familiar with Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering, you will probably remember the usability study he did on Amazon. As an e-commerce site, the website designers made the assumption that users returning to the website would remember their login or account details whereas new users will comply with registering for a new account for checkouts. UIE found Amazon’s original prompt to “register” deterred new users from using the site, and returning users experienced problems remembering their login details – with 45% of those users having created multiple registrations. Users only wanted to complete purchases and not sign up for a membership.

As a solution, UIE used the word “continue” in place of the “register” button. A new message was also added to inform users that registration was optional and helpful for returning users rather than a requirement to check out. This change accounted for a 45% increase in sales in the first month and $300 million in sales in the first year.

The microcopy of a call-to-action button has more implications on the bottom line as that is what instructs your users’ psyche and actions, and can break down barriers to their access. When we think about bad websites, understanding your customer’s purchasing journey and the psychology of your buyer can unveil critical elements to unblocking that sale or purchase. There is no standardised call-to-action button.

What does your call-to-action button say? What methods have you tried and what microcopy have you applied?

Passionate about UX/UI? Learn more about how to start your UX career with us here.