UX designers shape our interaction with the environment through technology

User Experience (UX) designers use coding, graphic design and problem-solving skills to create intuitive products for the user in one of Vancouver's growing industries. 

Emily Carr University of Art + Design offers a program in UX design: Interaction Design Certificate 

Anthony Lam, senior product designer at Mozilla, reviews a graduating student's portfolio at Industry Night. Photo courtesy Emily Carr Continuing Studies.

When George Papazian began teaching at Emily Carr University of Art + Design a few years ago, the term UX designer was still relatively new. Now, he is the lead instructor for the interaction design certificate program, a six-month intensive focused on UX and UI design 

“Our program covers design as well as frontend and backend development, all from a UX perspective.” says Papazian. “We want our graduates to have a broad foundation so they are able to pursue the aspects of UX/UI that are most of interest to them.”

Interaction Design Certificate students learn a range of skills, from graphic design to coding, which they apply to projects from branding concepts to functional prototypes. It’s a lot of ground to cover, even for students with some experience, so having a passion for design is key.  

“We’ve seen students with backgrounds in marketing, psychology, fine arts, computer science–one of the amazing things about UX is that it connects to so many fields,” he says.

While UX design is closely associated with desktop and mobile applications, Papazian stresses that it can also include a range of products, including devices with no screen at all.

“Interaction design shapes how we connect to our environment through technology,” he explains. “The principles we teach are universal.” 

At the program’s Industry Night, where graduating students present their portfolios to professionals working in UX/UI design, it’s important that their work reflects these principles. 

Anthony Lam, a senior product designer at Mozilla, recently attended Industry Night and enjoyed speaking with the graduates. “It was great to see the work that these students had accomplished in this short period of time,” he says.

Lam, who worked at local start-ups before joining Mozilla, recommends aspiring UX/UI designers keep learning new skills and pay attention to shifts in the landscape, as the industry is still growing and changing.

“I think the UX industry in Vancouver is headed in the right direction,” says Lam. “We’re seeing more and more companies opening offices in Vancouver.”

When his students are preparing to enter the industry and working on their portfolios, instructor George Papazian often urges them to include their process, not just the final product, because it’s their ability to identify challenges and find solutions that really matters. 

“At its core, UX is about solving problems,” says Papazian. “It’s not so much about being an incredible designer or a brilliant coder as it is about being a strategist who knows how to apply these skills to meet the needs of the user.”

Learn more about the Interaction Design Certificate at Emily Carr University of Art + Design at essentials.ecuad.ca/interaction.

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