Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a project with General Assembly and how can it help your business grow? Whether you are on the course learning about UX, or the company being helped (like we were with Vastari), that's exactly what you will find in this article.

What is General Assembly?

Changing your field and gaining new skills in IT, Design and UX have never been easier. After an intense course at GA you will have the solid foundations to begin your new career path - the course is fairly unique in that it is entirely based on projects and real-life problems with actual, working companies.

As a final major project, students have to show what they have learned on their course - for this, GA allows companies to apply to participate in the project with a group of their students. In our case, it was Jon, Mark, and Manu (hi!) who were completing an immersive course in UX Design.

“Some people think design is about how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really about how it works.” — Steve Jobs

Our Experience

In our first meeting with Jon, Mark, and Manu the first thing they said was – “for this project, we have two weeks”. For anyone familiar with design and UX, this is an incredibly small time frame to create actionable ideas and designs.

The first week they focussed on user research - gathering valuable feedback on our current design, and implementing this feedback into their new designs.

When we were discussing the brief with Jon, Mark, and Manu, we chose the biggest problem of our portal for them to work on - the main dashboard that users see when they log into vastari.com. From our user research we’ve been conducting, we’ve found that the options users have right now are not ideal and don’t always fit their needs.

There are too many options to choose from and occasionally, some users don’t fully understand some of them.

“Rule of thumb for UX: More options, more problems.” — Scott Belsky

Listen to your users

When Jon, Mark, and Manu understood our business and our users, they started with their user research. The data they gathered from this was incredibly useful. It helped us realize what the main goals of our users are and how we can improve the usability of our portal.

They also thought of great personas who could represent the main actors on our portal, from a museum director to an assistant curator.

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” — Charles Kettering

Connect the dots

When the Jon, Mark, and Manu finished their user research they came back to us with a huge pack of notes and ideas for us to discuss. To do this, we held a group meeting with our team as well as Jon, Mark and Manu - the meeting was entirely collaborative - each of us had to draw our ideal vision of our website. We then had a group critique, more drawings/ideas and then eventually, one finished design that we were each happy with.

As the project came to a close, our team visited the GA offices in Whitechapel to be presented with the finished design.

The approach from Jon, Mark, and Manu during the whole project was really proactive, they were messaging us with ideas and progress of the project on daily basis, so we knew what is happening all the time.

We really enjoyed the whole project and we were feeling involved in all parts of it. The best news is, many of their learnings will be incorporated into our website in 2018.