Academic Capstone

Find Your Color

Product Design • Content Design • End-to-End UX Process

A career workbook toolkit to help young designers and design students find their professional identity in the diverse field of User Experience.

Typography, Editorial, Visual Design &
UX/UI Design Process

Timeline - 6 months

Team - Just me!

View Digital Workbook

View Companion App



Within design there are multiple disciplines to focus your work toward, such as the surging user experience design umbrella. The flexibility of what constitutes user experience gives this industry its appeal and diversity of knowledge and skills. Job titles under user experience (UX) are often interchangeable, foregoing rigid descriptions of what they're indicative of.


Students and young designers exploring the facets of UX may not know where to begin with the overwhelming avenues to dive into. Without intentional career guidance, support or opportunities for career reflection, some students may be lost in their process.

How might we create a self-directed, career-introspective process for design students?

Project Process


Initial Project Idea

Throughout the Empathy phase, my final prompt and goal evolved from my first concept tackling how might we bring back traditional design graduate showcases back into Interaction Design (IXD), my undergraduate program at Sheridan College. In 3 semi-structured interviews to discuss traditional design graduate showcases, my synthesized analysis signaled a shift should be considered in my initial topic space.

3rd Year Interaction Design Student, Sept 2021

  • "My own expectations coming from a traditional art background set me up to expect a traditional graduation"

2021 YSDN Graduate and Grad Show Executive, Sept 2021

  • Courses are dedicated to planning and preparing the grad show. Website, design, promotion, and organizational logistics are handled as part of the course with faculty support and resources

Interaction Design Course Professor, Sept 2021

  • "How can you rework your HMW for the IXD audience? How can you identify their learning outcomes, the courses they've done, and their available skill set?"

The interview discussions were done sequentially, within the span of 2 weeks starting from the top. After the 3rd year student interview, the first shift occurred to focus more towards defining a clearer process to help students identify as a specific type of designer. This shift was supported after discussing with the YSDN graduate who revealed the complexities of year long planning and execution that I would not have access to in combination with the organizational changes to the IXD program.

Interview Transcript Analysis

These user interviews were organized into an affinity diagram to consolidate and synthesize trends found through key points during our discussions. While my initial thoughts and idea for my capstone became obsolete, emphasizing with users to understand deeper root issues brought to the surface other factors driving my initial feelings. This first clarification provided me a clearer second step to take in my process.

Project Idea Shift

Taking the category definitions "Defining Interaction Design" and "The UX umbrella will grow" from the first affinity diagram, I used those to prompt additional user interviews. 4 semi-structured discussions with recently graduated students from the IXD program were performed. This time was used to understand how the graduates overcame the gap of understanding their design practice.

Recent IXD Graduates, Oct 2021

  • "I would have liked to have seen more talks about the different avenues of design beyond digital experience"
  • "I definitely wish I had a stronger connection with a mentor, I sought it out but was shy to get that connection, even now"
  • "When I was reflecting on myself as a designer, I had a talk with a design manager who told me; think about where you want to be in your career. What that gap is between where you are now and where you want to be"
  • "Part of being able to figure out what your career is, is being able to have a honest conversation with yourself"

Empathizing the User Personas

This pair of personas share a story of recent graduates in the process of self-discovery and the urgency of job security shortly after graduation. 2 of the graduates at the time of the interviews were unfortunately unemployed, but provided realistic stories of their needs and frustrations as they described how they perceived their skill set as unfocused.

The latter pair of graduates had secured a related design position and shared their process to overcome the gap of identifying their design practice. One shared that their proactive engagement in related extracurriculars sped up their understanding of what they wanted to do. The other realized other avenues of exploration within the course material itself, tweaking project briefs and deliverables to cater work towards what they post-graduation.


Defining the Final Project Space

The process to learn how graduates identified or in the process of identifying their design practice shared why they this way about career definition in relation to the IXD program and UX umbrella. The time for purposeful introspective self-reflection as apart of course work or otherwise was lacking. To aid the process of providing meaningful career definition, the goal has reached what is was at the beginning of this case study: How might we create a self-directed, career introspective process for design students?

Capturing the Final User Story

After exploring the student perspective of this problem space, it was important to capture how established professionals have overcome the gap of understanding their design practice. Because they've had the time to settle down after school, industry professionals will have had opportunities for growth through their managers, company resources, and career reflection. In a final round of semi-structured discussions, 2 professionals were interviewed with at least 2-3+ years away from their graduation date which synthesized the final affinity diagram, persona, and user journey.

With these UX components, I establish a clear target audience with their motivations and goals looking for a product which provides them with the opportunity to engage with self-directed learning for career reflection. Compiled from the initial user empathy, I defined the problem space that directly affects the user with a focused problem to solve for.


Designing Tool Kit Content

The vast problem space of career guidance shares a large scope for me to develop activities that cover all aspects of the topic. Referring back to Lucas' story, he has identified that a short-term solution would fit best in his timeline. It will be important for this product to evaluate Lucas' current career profile as a means to help focus his direction. This can mean designing content and activities that are to the point but don't aim to reconstruct existing skill sets. Bringing clarity and organization to understand a career profile is the focus.

In this activity, Lucas outlines his entire skill set into categories to provide a profile breakdown. From the categories, skills are organized into specific disciplines to help with individual visualizations. Reflecting upon disciplines and skills highlights strengths and weaknesses. Finding aspects of skills which Lucas is passionate about can boost creative energy, promoting the exploration of self-fulfilling work

In this activity, Lucas answers a simple set of prompts to engage thoughtful insights meant to evaluate a user's current sets of values, considerations, needs, and wants for a job. Securing financial stability is important, but taking the time to think about individual priorities can be justifiably important as well. Lucas may reflect on overlooked aspects and needs that should be fulfilled when taking a look at job applications.

In this activity, Lucas defines a particular skill that they want to improve on. From a self-defined scale of 1-10, he would place a marker on the scale for his current level. Another marker is placed to denote where they want to be with that skill. It's important to reflect on areas of improvement to further professional development. This process will outline tangible steps and timelines that are achievable and relevant.


Type Exploration

To encompass the type of learning environment to influence engaging self-reflective activities, the opportunity to craft a workbook justified it's framing. Described in Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, framing is the use of images, words, and context to manipulate how people think about something. Positive frames tend to elicit positive feelings, and result in proactive and risk-seeking behaviours. In addition to my research into self-directed learned pedagogy, developing a tool kit and it's affordances will help to provide insightful reading content and activities meant to elicit positive career reflection.


Visualizing a Relevant Skill Breakdown

Finding Your Priorities

Creating Realistic Goal Roadmaps

Condensed Companion App

My Takeaways

User research and interviews are extremely importantAs the majority of my first semester was focused on the design empathy and definition of figuring a clear project topic, spending the extra time to discover tangible user end goals really helped. While I could've created a tool kit based entirely on my own assumptions, it wouldn't have the same curated impact and targeting which the UX process provided. Defining a clear target user and audience gave me a focus in what exactly I needed to design within the scope and timeline of the project delivery.

User Experience is flexible in it's applicationWhile User Experience is primarily focused within the digital experience space, going through this self-directed capstone project has validated my assumptions of how UX can be applied elsewhere. When I think about it, any user goal-oriented design can benefit from UX design processes. Knowing this, it will important for me moving forward to stay open to the different team environments and market landscapes I will engage myself in. The courses and projects in my time during IXD in Sheridan will give me the background knowledge to approach the multidisciplinary field I want to work in.