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This week I caught up with UX designer and UMASS Amherst student, Sagar Arora. He and I met a couple of years ago during an IBM Design Thinking workshop on the UMASS campus. In this session, we talk about how an experience at Mcdonald’s got him interested in UX and how this passion has propelled him to forge his own educational path by building his own work experience.

How did you get started in UX?

It was the McDonald’s website. I was 17 at the time, and I felt that there was something going on with the colors and the design. It was so engaging and weirdly attractive. I wanted to know why. That’s what got me started on this journey.

What are other resources your follow?

Michael Locke, he does a bunch of YouTube videos on UX. Going back to the previous question. I thought if I could design something with the same type of emotional impact, that would be very powerful. I just started searching for anything. That’s how I found his videos on YouTube.

What class was the most influential for you?

Creative game design. It was not digital at all. We studied board games. It got us in the mindset of design thinking and how to design games with your players in mind. We discussed how to keep players engaged and excited to keep going. The same kind of principles exists in game design and UX.

What are you doing to get your own work experience?

I am interning at Fidelity. It’s definitely a UX driven company. They have specialized roles like interaction design (IxD), visual, information architecture (IA). I am super excited for the opportunity.

How did you build your portfolio without work experience?

Google came to our campus at UMASS to facilitate a design thinking workshop. They took us through their design framework to help us pick an audience to focus on. We then dug into their lives, uncovered pain points, and needs. From there, experimented with rapid prototyping to try to test out possible solutions.

The area I focused on was food allergies. I found that there were so many things people go through beyond the actual allergy symptoms. For example, going out to eat with friends and family is very difficult. In the end, I used the UX process to help uncover and validate a potential solution which ended up in my portfolio.

You can find Sagar online here.

Books that Sagar recommends:
Design of Everyday Things
5 Second Rule
How to Win Friends and Influence Others

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Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.