Product Design London Archives - Experience Haus

Alumni Hackathon: May 7th, 2022

Alumni Hackathon

This event is an all-day meeting of like-minded people, hosted in our Shoreditch studio, where our Experience Haus community (experience designers, service designers, product managers, marketers and startup enthusiasts) will come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and hopefully launch some innovative ideas that meet our challenging design brief.

We give you the space, mentors and expert entrepreneurs to help you build a portfolio-ready project.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a startup enthusiast, or just want to meet like-minded people, meet us this Saturday to create something beautiful and solve real problems!

Why attend?

This event offers you the chance to:

  • Pitch your idea and have the chance to see it move forward
  • Receive coaching and mentoring from amazing entrepreneurs and advisors
  • Learn about validating your idea, product and customer development, learn startup methods, Minimum Viable Products (MVP) and so much more!
  • Make your CV stand out and increase your design skills

Sign up via the community Slack channel.

Student Success Story: Sydney Schaefer

Sydney

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in Product Design?

I studied general design practices at university and as soon as I graduated, I got a job as a designer at an advertising agency, but it wasn’t really for me. I’m not necessarily a graphic or visual person, but it was a good steady job to have when I first left university. Over time, I felt it wasn’t the right place, it wasn’t the right fit, so I did end up leaving and searching for other jobs as I wanted to do something that was more Service Design/UX orientated. I pulled together my portfolio, but it wasn’t really suitable for those disciplines. I applied for lots of jobs and had lots of odd, small jobs and freelance gigs here and there that were closer to what I was looking for, but still not quite right for me. There were a lot of instances where I’d meet up with someone, they’d give me a bit of work but things didn’t always pan out. I think I got luckier than a lot of people in those situations, because I went out and talked to a lot of people which helps, but there’s only so much you can do! 

Then the pandemic hit and any kind of traction I had immediately stopped. I knew I was interested in UX. I knew I wanted to do some form of digital products. I thought this was a good transition for my skills and where I wanted to be in the future, so I started doing some independent projects. That worked out well for the time, but I kept hearing over and over again ‘you don’t have enough experience. Your portfolio isn’t quite right.’ It was always the same message of hearing I was good, but that I needed a bit more. Around that time I thought I had been doing this for a while, and it was time to figure out how to get that experience and get that certification under my belt.

How did you come across Experience Haus? What made you decide to pick our course?

It was actually my partner that found Experience Haus. He sent it to me because we were talking about doing courses and I didn’t want something big or long-term because I already had a design background. I just needed a top-up really! I already knew how to go through a lot of the procedures, I just needed someone there to critique my work, so that was what was really important to me. I had a chat with one of the team about it and he was the one who really sold me on it! It was a really good conversation and I actually felt like he cared about it. He was honest about where I’d learn things and where I’d potentially be repeating but I would still get something out of it.

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

The main things I wanted to achieve were getting my portfolio and just refreshing my skills. It was also a bit of a stress test to make sure this was the next direction I wanted to move in. I had committed a lot of time but actually going through a project from end to end was really important as well.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

The course was great! I think I was able to commit a lot of time to it. It’s definitely one of those courses where you get out what you put in. 

I enjoyed being able to have 1:1 sessions with people on a regular basis – I really appreciated that. That’s one thing a lot of people don’t realise about design: it is a team sport and not something you can just do by yourself. We all have our own assumptions and come from different places, so having someone to sit there and be like ‘you’re actually wrong here but it’s alright that you’re wrong as you’ve built up assumptions. Let’s talk about this’ or ‘Let’s test this to see if you are right’. It helps make my work better.

I liked the fact it was in-person. Everyone on the course was really lovely. Having that interconnected critique of everyone’s work was really useful and fun!

Student Success Story: Alexandra Nurse

Alexandra Nurse

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in Product Design?

I have a background in product design, but more industrial design, so I studied that at university but I struggled trying to apply for jobs in physical product design. I did get a grad job at a company where they designed retail display units for make-up and cosmetic companies like Selfridges, Dior, Mac, places like that! I worked there for just over a year but then due to a lot of circumstances it just didn’t work out. I also realised the company just wasn’t for me! They were also going through a redundancy stage as well, so I decided to learn and after that I was working part-time as a casual worker at the Design Museum in retail. During that time, when the pandemic was just starting, I started researching into UX/UI design because whenever I was applying jobs searching for product designer, all I could see were UX Designer jobs, or it was say ‘product design’ but kept talking about wireframes and I didn’t know what wireframes were and didn’t know if I could do the job! So that was why I really decided to go into UX design.

How did you come across Experience Haus? What made you decide to pick our course?

During Covid I was doing a lot of research into courses and stuff. At first I was on Skillshare and doing lots of little courses for free just to make sure my understanding was there, but then I decided I wanted to do a proper course and I had seen your name pop up before. I started looking at courses but then my friend saw you come up on Instagram and sent it to me.

Doing it in-person was also an important thing for me. With the way I learn, I feel if I go physically somewhere there’s more understanding, whereas I feel it’s easier to switch off when you’re doing it online! I had done a lot of video learning already through YouTube and Skillshare so on this occasion I felt like I needed someone there explaining it. I also need that accountability to make sure I finish doing what I need to do! It’s one of those things that if someone’s watching you, you just feel you need to get everything done!

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

Definitely a portfolio piece. The fact that Experience Haus offered live briefs and you could work with a client was really good. My client was happy to meet with me twice a week so it felt more like a working relationship going through all my processes with them and showing what I had been working on. I felt that was a really good experience as it felt like I was working for them. I wanted that experience of working for someone but not like a freelancer so I found that really beneficial.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

Being able to come into the studio! To be able to come into the office and see people was great as I wasn’t seeing people that much.

What was your one big takeaway from the course?

The real life experience and having a full rounded understanding of UX and UI.

Instructor Profile: Joe Dollar-Smirnov

product-design-instructor-sitting-on-sofa

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I am a Dad of two little kids with a long and varied background working in the tech space as a designer. Privileged to now be able to focus on an early-stage project close to my heart: cycling and the circular economy. In other words, rescuing bicycles from landfill, upcycling and renting them out on an all-inclusive subscription basis to our lovely customers.

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

The goal I am always trying to achieve is work-life balance! It turns out that work-life balance does not mean equal work and equal life, of course, life needs to take priority. If anyone has found the key to this please let me know!!

I get a lot of enjoyment from teaching and sharing experiences from my career to date, so being at Experience Haus definitely helps to keep things in perspective.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Honestly, I have not thought about this too much, but it is important to always stay open to change and even more important to be open to the fact that you learn huge amounts from people (and students) around you. Learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin. Being a learner improves you as an educator.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

Small class sizes gives everyone a chance to form good relationships and allows instructors to be more proactive when it comes to helping students. Generally speaking the size of the business means it’s easier to know each other and there is a shared sense of responsibility for the success of everyone involved.

Instructor Profile: Oli Puttick

male-product-design-instructor-sitting-in-studio

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I relocated to London from Australia in 2019 and have been working as a Senior Product Designer at a small travel startup called Seafrog since.

During my short career, I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with early stage startups, agencies and big established corporates across a range of industries including Fintech, education, hospitality, travel, real estate, gaming, settlement, music, insurance and many more.

Outside of my design work, you’ll probably find me falling off a skateboard, digging into a Murakami novel or shooting film on a camera that’s a bit of an ancient relic!

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

What drew me to Experience Haus was the opportunity to collaborate with people at the beginning of their journey in the industry. There’s something invigorating about taking what you’ve learnt over the years, and sharing it in a classroom environment where your ideas can be built upon and even challenged. Also, the bonus part of being an instructor is that you’re learning just as much as you’re teaching!

What is your teaching philosophy?

Get feedback early, get feedback often. When people first start out in the industry, they’re usually cautious of charing their work as they want it to be perfect (me included!) However, the best part of design is its collaborative nature, critiquing your work in a group environment is one of the most effective ways to make it better.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

Reflecting on what I’ve learnt and passing on the best bits. When I first started out, I made plenty of mistakes (some necessary and some not). However, I’ve been extremely fortunate during my career to have access to great mentors that really helped me grow and develop. It’s only fair that I return the favour.

Instructor Profile: Dimitri Hadjichristou

Dimitri

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I’m a Digital Product Designer at gohenry, a financial app service where children have a prepaid debit card that parents can transfer into in exchange for chores and allowances. I personally lead design in our network stack, where we focus on features and products that allow the child’s wider family network to send them money, increasing money channels, but also introducing lots of growth opportunities! 

I’ve been there for just over a year and a half and it’s been so much fun getting our product features into the hands of hundreds of thousands of customers and seeing how they use our product.

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

I think I’ve always liked teaching and sharing knowledge. It started in school where a lot of my classmates would ask for my help with maths! I always got a bit of a kick out of helping people, which spurred me on to be a product designer as well as a course instructor.

If just one of my students per class is engaged and manages to land a new role or promotion, then I’ve done a good job. So far, a good few of my students have landed new roles or done entire career pivots, and that’s thanks to the hard work they put in both on and post-course.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy focuses on learning through doing, always having a two-way dialogue rather than just telling the students what to do, and making sure things are current; creating contemporary case studies, rather than teaching outdated content. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

My favourite thing about teaching is it always keeps me on my toes! I’m constantly looking for new ways to teach things, and make them more understandable, which not only dictates how I teach my classes but also helps me improve and adjust my design processes at work.

Additionally, during the process of moving from teaching in-person to online, I really had to step back to re-evaluate how I run workshops and making that format both engaging and appropriate for an online environment. It’s super rewarding when students get it at the end of a class, and so far I’ve seen some amazing engagement from our students which you can tell from the quality of their work.

Instructor Profile: Bart Weaver

UI-instructor-sitting-on-sofa

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

Hey, I’m Bart! I’m a Product Designer working in London. My current role is with Trint AI, a transcribing and translating tool used by companies such as Airbnb, Nike and the New York Times. I wasn’t always a designer; I dabbled in the PR sector working for Adidas, Beats by Dre and Jack Daniels and have done my time in the events industry, building stages and assisting in event setups and festivals all over the UK. I have to say I have never been happier where I am now as a designer.

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

You never stop learning in the digital design industry. Working alongside and skill swapping with other industry heads at Experience Haus has sharpened my skill set and kept me on an upward trajectory in my career.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Enjoy the ride, take it in your stride and trust the process.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

I get a buzz from helping prospective product designers find a new gig in the digital design industry. I’ve seen both students on the course and friends I’ve referred make a leap and get the role they wanted along the way.

Instructor Profile: Érin Delaney

female-ux-and-ui-instructor-sitting-on-sofa

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I’ve recently started working as a Product Designer at frog, but prior to that I was a Senior UX designer at Foolproof. I came to this role after five years in branding and a Bachelor’s in visual communication.

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

I first started teaching at Experience Haus to keep up with the youth! I always get great inspiration from fresh blood in the industry and love being around the passion, hunger and enthusiasm students just breaking into the space have for user experience and product design.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe people learn by doing so I really try to hero participation in all classes and coaching students through methodologies rather than too much preaching.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

Teaching at Experience Haus has meant joining a huge community of designers in similar spaces but different roles where we all learn from each other. The environment of knowledge and discovery really keeps me motivated about the space in general.

Student Success Story: Dave Robson

Service Design student at Experience Haus standing in front of a brick wall

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in Service Design?

Before I joined the course, I was working at Accenture. My work had always been around transformation and over the last 3 years I have been applying the human-centered design mindset and methodologies to projects. It had been fantastic; but I recognised I had gone as far as I could with human-centered design at Accenture. I needed to venture elsewhere to challenge my understanding of design thinking and grow my abilities in service design.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

I can’t remember exactly how I came across Haus…but from the minute I spoke to the coach I knew it was the course for me! Why? Two reasons. First, there aren’t many long-term service design courses out there. There are mostly 4-5 days ones and I knew these wouldn’t go into the depth that I needed. Haus’ course offered an experience that would go as deep as I needed to go. Second, the hybrid nature of theory and practice. I wanted to test my application of the service design toolkit in the real world – not something many courses get right! – and the Haus course offered that. My understanding, conceptualising and application of service design has evolved so much since day 1 of the course.

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

Ultimately, I wanted to challenge everything I knew about service design. My goal was to learn about its history, theory, practical application, how others ‘do it’, and have a go within the sandpit of the course itself. 

I achieved every one of those ambitions. It took me from the peak of mount stupid to the plateau of sustainability. Understanding how others interpreted service design and its associated methods/worlds has been so crucial in understanding what my reflections and views are on it, and developing as a service designer. 

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I enjoyed the course in many ways. The theoretical and seminar-based nature of the beginning was great fun and took me back to what I truly enjoy – learning! The chance to define what my project looked like and delivered was great. Freedom is a fantastic way to fail, learn and succeed!

What was your one big takeaway from the course?

One of my big takeaways from the course is that service design is about more than just design thinking – it’s rigorous design research, it’s service planning, it’s roadmapping, implementing, ideating. It is the meeting of many worlds coming together – the traditional “business” world, the novel “design” world, and everything in between. Only by appreciating all these parts can you become a truly impactful service designer. 

Another big takeaway was to just start doing service design. Don’t wait for anyone to tell you. I basically thought with every  work project, “how can I leverage the service design discipline here?” This is a good way to build skills as well.

Student Success Story: Ali Watson

Experience Haus ux and ui student walking in the park with sunglasses on her head

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in UX/UI design?

Prior to doing the course I was in between jobs – I was unemployed. My background is in interior design so I was doing that in London and then I moved to Glasgow two weeks before the first lockdown, so I came up here with no job and wasn’t sure whether to stay in interiors or not. Due to the pandemic I ended up out of work and worked in a care home for 6 months which was a real eye opener! But I needed to be working and those were the only jobs available at the time. 

I started thinking about what direction I wanted to go in and actually spent a long time in lockdown doing online workshops and seminars, and tapping into different areas and looking into UX. I did a digital business promotion course online and I thought the way things are going, I’m very interested in people and my personality matches – I’m very empathetic, a good listener and all the skills I gained from previous work experience would lend quite well going into UX. 

It wasn’t actually until I delved a bit deeper and understood a lot more about the industry and UX design that I realised I should do a course. It was important for me to be learning whilst getting hands on experience with clients at the same time.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

Through Googling and doing lots of research. There were so many courses that were ridiculous prices like £5,000+ that just wasn’t affordable for me. When I came across Haus, I had a chat with Amit and he put me in touch with someone who had done the course before and I had a really good chat with her. It was good to get her insights on the course and how to get the most out of it. I really liked the fact it was a small class size so you didn’t just feel like one of many sitting on a Zoom call!

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

It was important for me to get back into working on a project, working with a client and working with other people. It had actually been a long time since I had done that and I really wanted to build up my confidence. I put a lot of pressure on myself at the beginning like “this has to work, I need to get something out of this.” I was stressing myself out about it. Then I just enjoyed the process and applying myself to the course and showing up and getting on with it. You need to be motivated to do something that’s online rather than in the classroom.  

I feel like I really built my confidence up and was realistic with myself that I wasn’t going to learn EVERYTHING in a 3 month course. But there are areas to look at, touch on and you decide which direction to go in or what you enjoy the most.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I liked the element of working in groups. I like the collaborative workflow as that’s how you’ll be working in real life context in a company. I also really liked seeing the process – going through the different methodologies and seeing how things flow.

What was your one big takeaway from the course?

My main takeaway from the course was going in thinking I’ll need to know everything when the reality is quite different! I felt quite overwhelmed thinking I had to know how to do every little thing to do with UX and the instructor said to me “you’ll find you’ll come out of this course and you’ll have the tools and then you can go off and start developing/start going down to a niche”. And Amit said the same thing – you find a niche for yourself. He said you won’t be able to do the UI, the research – you’ll be spreading yourself so thinly that you almost need to be really good at one thing. Obviously it is good to have an understanding of the UI side and how wireframing works etc but it was interesting as he said ‘you’ll go into a company and probably focus on one area and then build on your skills and get really good at that.’ I was talking to another mentor from Experience Haus who said you go into a company thinking you’ll be doing all these things and actually end up focusing on one thing! But I guess it does depend on the company…I have done it before where I’ve been good at lots of things and had lots of transferable skills, but now it’s time to focus and hone my skills on one area that I’ll then get really good at. Once you’re good at that one thing, that’s when your skills are in demand! 

Student Success Story: Andy Finlay

Male product design student sitting in Experience Haus studio

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in Product Design?

Before I joined the course at Haus I was working as a designer at a business consultancy. They have large scale clients like HSBC and Virgin Media. The problem with working there was when you are employed as a designer you have a specific role and you don’t really flex away from that. Compared to my previous company which was a start-up where there was always lots going on and you can get involved in a lot of different thing, I felt I was a bit stuck in this role and wasn’t growing much. I was doing lots of UI and was very comfortable in that scope but I felt very stuck there with no room for flexibility. I felt I needed to keep learning and growing and really needed some UX skills, so thought joining a short course like Experience Haus would give me that exposure.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

Honestly, I think it was a case of Googling and looking at what was nearby…and you guys are literally round the corner from me!

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

My main goals were to grow my skill set and get exposure to UX. In my view the UI space is a little under threat because you have a lot of material design websites where you can download everything you want now like pattern libraries, free stock photos, logos etc and it’s almost eliminating the need for UI designers. And so if you are a UX’er with no UI skills you’ll be ok as you can download everything you want from Google, but if you are a UI designer with no UX skills, you don’t really have anywhere to go.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

The course all round was a very memorable experience. The classes were really engaging and interactive with great tutoring and good contextual examples to help us learn about the process which is what I enjoyed the most. I get curious about things I don’t fully understand and I was keen to learn more about UX. The courses helped me understand the product design process and filled those gaps in my knowledge. I was then able to put it into practice on the live brief which helped it stick in my mind! I can now easily recall the process from experience.

What was your one big takeaway from the course?

With quite a bit of industry experience behind me, I thought the course would be straightforward for me to understand, but it certainly wasn’t! It was a real challenge and I felt as if I was starting my design career from scratch. So one thing I took away was to be humble and more open minded as every day is a learning experience from which we can always improve ourselves, regardless of our background.

Student Success Story: Gabrielle Corbett

ux and ui female student smiling on pink background

Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in UX/UI design?

I did the course with you from October – December 2020. The year before that in 2019 I had just quit my job in London and we were moving up to Scotland. I worked at a music company called Vevo. I was doing label relations (essentially client relations!) so I looked after Sony and then other independent records (like Domino Recording where I worked prior to Vevo). Part of that role was also production so making videos. Totally different to what I’m doing now! 

I knew I wanted to do something different. When I came up to Scotland I genuinely thought I’d get into production. I got a job in March 2020 but then because of Covid it kept getting pushed back before it finally fell through! I then started doing customer service at Amazon just to pay the bills, but it meant I could also do random stuff on the side. I reached out to other people and caught up with a friend I used to work with who now works at MadeBrave. She’s a Project Manager and we were what I like and what I do and she said I’d be really good at creating things eg. creating assets, doing production etc. I think she might have mentioned UX in her list of things I would suit and I liked the idea of it. I reached out to a friend who had done a 6 month course so did some research, read around the subject and then found Experience Haus!

What made you choose Experience Haus?

I just Googled various providers and found Experience Haus. I asked to speak to someone directly as I found the course interesting but I didn’t know if I could do it. I had seen some courses that were really expensive and all you did was turn up and watch videos! I’d done that sort of course before and it just didn’t work for me so it was really important joining a live course.  

There were a number of things that led me to do the course at Experience Haus: the small class size, the live project to put on our portfolios and the cost. Some courses I had seen just didn’t seem achievable for me with how much they were asking for. I hadn’t spent money on my personal development for ages so it was an important thing for me to commit to. I also chatted to someone who had done the course before who had done a complete career pivot similar to myself and that really helped.

Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?

The main thing was getting a job in UX but I knew this wouldn’t happen straight away, so having a good portfolio and a case study to add to my portfolio was key. I also knew about a small amount of Figma before I started the course but I wanted to get more familiar with it by the end of the course.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

Definitely being able to work in a team! It’s daunting to begin with being put with people you don’t know and not knowing whether you’ll work well together, but it was genuinely fun getting to know new people as it was a time where you weren’t able to go out and meet new people. At the beginning of the course you get imposter syndrome thinking you know nothing and that everyone else knows everything, but once you meet everyone you realise they’re all thinking the same thing!  

The other thing I really enjoyed was learning so many different skills. As I mentioned, I did know a bit about Figma before but now I’ve learnt some of the other skills I love it! I could spend hours on it and just get lost. 

What was your one big takeaway from the course?

Do as much as you can in the time you are given. I was working full time and weird hours at Amazon at the time and I knew other people weren’t working at all so it was just making sure I dedicated the spare time I had to it. It can be exhausting but you need to put the time in. You’re being taught a lot of things but half of it comes from what you do outside of class as well. It is important to have that right mindset. 

Right after the course, make sure you write up your portfolio immediately as I think once you don’t do it, you never will. I sunk my teeth into it and spent a week after the course just focusing on getting it done.