Teaching the Next Generation of Digital Leaders

Deb and students

Growing our city’s digital talent is essential for Vancouver companies to push innovative boundaries and compete globally. Understanding our local economy’s need for digital leadership, SFU, UBC, BCIT, and Emily Carr University teamed up to create Canada’s first professional graduate program in Digital Media. We were pleased to welcome one of their early graduates, Deborah Mackenzie, to our User Experience team. Deborah’s ability to translate business goals into valuable user experiences earns her high praise from our clients is a testament to the program’s success. Now, Deborah is headed back to the Centre for Digital Media as a teacher—helping the next generation of digital leaders master the fundamentals of User Experience.

Deborah has over eight years of UX design experience, having worked both locally and internationally. As a student, she went into the program looking to enhance her skills. “A lot of people went into this Master’s program to change their career direction, but that wasn’t my goal,” she said, “I LOVE doing UX design—I just wanted to do it better.”

Back to the Fundamentals

Deborah’s course is aimed at students who want to gain a better understanding of the principles behind User Centered Design. Learning how to communicate the fundamentals of UX has forced Deborah to cement her own processes as a practitioner. “Planning the course content has already made me a better UX designer,” said Deborah, “it has helped me identify gaps in my own knowledge, presenting me with an opportunity to research those concepts in order to better teach my students.”

UX is more than a wireframe

Learning how to effectively communicate user experience to students also helps with translating the process to our clients. A common misconception about UX design is the emphasis that is put on wireframes. “The wireframe is just a way of communicating the research,” said Deborah, “UX at its core is about gathering and analyzing knowledge.” Being able to help clients understand the process allows us to gather the right input, which results in a better product for their users.

User experience drives digital value

Often times innovation is used to describe novel, unique, or cutting-edge technology. However, for organizations to generate value from these technologies, they must deliver real value to their customers. As long-time advocates for the importance of user experience, we’re delighted to see the practice growing into a core study area at the master’s level. Deborah is excited to begin her tenure at the Centre for Digital Media and says her big takeaway for students will be that they understand there are a lot of ways to do things when it comes to user experience. “Mastering the fundamentals will help them turn their future client’s products or services into something their customers really enjoy using.”

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