Meet Ananda Vasudevan
UX Graduate from our Upskiller & Career Launcher courses
Ananda Vasudevan
UX Designer | Servian
Completed the

In June 2020 I completed the Harness Projects Upskiller UX course. I loved it so much I continued into the Career Launcher UX Course and graduated in December 2020. Shortly after graduating I landed my first UX Design role at Servian in March 2021.

UX Fundamentals

Project 1

Design a usability enhancement to The Swag's website

My first Harness Project was the UX fundamentals project. This is still probably my favourite project to date just based on the amount of work and development I was able to achieve in such a short amount of time. This project developed my skills across the full end-to-end design thinking process from research to solution design.

Supported by our mentor, Andrew Doherty (Ex-google), our team worked with the SWAG AU to help the CEO develop a microsite to educate her customers on the financial and environmental benefits of her product – The SWAG bag. What I really enjoyed the most about this project was being able to work with other driven, motivated students to help our client come up with recommendations that she could use to improve her reach to Australian customers to fight the war on food waste.

I was able to really develop my skills in designing and conducting my own interviews, techniques for ideation and developing solutions and using a wide range of prototyping tools at different stages of design (Invision, Adobe XD). This was the most satisfying part of the project as I was able to rapidly learn new tools from scratch in a matter of a few weeks! My client implemented some of my prototyping recommendations, which made all the hard work even more worthwhile!

This project would not have been as successful without the support of our incredible mentor Andrew. He always made the time outside of class to any project or career related questions and helped shatter the myths around transitioning into the field of UX/UI design. Thanks to Andrew and the experience on this project, I finally found my confidence to pursue a career in the field of UX/UI design with certainty.

Ananda introduces herself to the team
Ananda's UX Sketches
Fundamentals

Project 2

Design a digital solution to connect the community at Sydney's Darling Square precinct

My second Harness project was the UX fundamentals course in the Career Launcher series. In this project, I was tasked with developing a digital solution to help residents in Darling Square keep connected during the pandemic.

Thanks to my last project, I was able to work with Harness to understand what areas I wanted to keep developing to become a better UX/UI designer. Harness was able to provide additional learning courses to help me focus on developing my UI skills. Supported by our mentor, Sam Hancock (Servian), I was able to work in a team to conduct the full end-to-end design thinking process to develop a mobile solution to help Lendlease and the Bright program to help connect the residents of Darling Square.

Sam was able to help me further develop a deeper understanding of different tools and techniques I could add to my toolbox as a designer. Sam was always a caring, resourceful, and a highly knowledgeable mentor throughout the entire project. He was able to introduce me to concepts such as design systems to help make designing more consistent, cleaner, and efficient. With all the concepts I had learned, I was proud to have created a mobile prototype from scratch and see how far I had come from my last project.

Ananda conducts an interview with her client stakeholder from Lendlease
Advanced Prototyping

Project 3

Design a prototype for a financial literacy app

My third project was a deep dive into the world of prototyping. The project involved creating a mobile app to help Head Start Homes and Westpac help everyday Australians achieve their goals of owning their first home. This project focused on developing deep technical skills in User Interface Design (UI) using Figma.

I really loved this project as it was a chance for me to learn another prototyping tool and really focus in on the details behind how you take a concept from sketching to lo-fidelity, to mid-fidelity to high fidelity to developer handover. It also gave me an appreciation of the importance of testing concepts early and often to get user feedback to save time in the design process and avoid heaps of re-work. It was also the first time I learned more deeply about concepts such as creating a design system and the tiny pixel details that make designs great.

Andrew was an excellent and very experienced mentor who was able to use his experience at Vodafone to give us an intimate look into the tools and techniques industry uses to create pixel perfect designs. I really enjoyed this project because I was also able to grow my knowledge around the complex area of financial literacy and home ownership. It was also a great challenge in trying to make something traditionally seen as a boring topic, fun. The project stretched my creativity and helped me explore interesting product features and concepts such as gamification.

Ananda's Prototype
Advanced Research

Project 4

Conduct a research audit of Money Girl's target audience

The final project was looking at helping Money Girl create the ideal end-to-end customer experience to build and grow their existing community. I really enjoyed this project as it expanded my toolbox in learning about all the different types of research methods and tools you can use to understand the user’s needs. I was able to experiment with new interview methods and deep dive into certain skills such as journey mapping and competitor analysis. It was a great example of a project where the deliverable wasn’t necessarily a prototype, but more of a set of recommendations based on research that fit both the end user and business needs. 

Mike was an amazing mentor who brought a wealth of expertise and knowledge. He always challenged me to reflect and think about my development as a designer. Mike always took the time to answer questions (both about the project and also career wise) and was always willing to go above and beyond to provide me with valuable advice. This was a mentor who was instrumental in helping me develop my confidence and skills as a UX/UI designer.

Ananda's Persona
Where to next?

Outcome

After completing the course I spent about a month updating my resume, LinkedIn and creating my portfolio. The Harness courses really helped me understand my passion for pursuing UX/UI design roles in technology companies (working on products and services) which was different to the industries I was currently working in at PwC. With the help of Harness and my mentors, I was able to create a great portfolio that helped me land interviews at some great places within a month of applying to jobs! (UNSW, Macquarie and Canva to name a few).

During this period I was lucky enough to receive a direct referral by my mentor Sam, who works at Servian, and I eventually landed a role as a UX/UI designer in his team. Harness projects were very supportive during this process in bouncing off ideas, helping me reflect on career goals and ultimately guiding me in making the right career decisions - I’m forever thankful for the helping hand!

Ananda' presents her final work to Westpac & Head Start Homes

In Ananda's words

Motivation
What got you interested in UX Design?

I’ve always been interested in the world of design as I think it has the impact to change the way we interact with technology, services and products. Coming from a background in Psychology, I’ve always been interested in understanding human behavior and decision making. This background lent itself well in understanding research and testing methodologies in UX design. My current role at PwC helped propel me into the world of design thinking and experience/service design to solve a whole range of problems across industry. Harness Projects really helped me discover my passion for using UX/UI design to create social impact and design meaningful interactions with technology, products and services.

Dual Courses
Why did you decide to join the Career Launcher course after finishing the Upskiller UX course?

I decided to join the Career Launcher course because I felt like I still had a lot to learn and develop to become a UX/UI designer. In addition, I really enjoyed the upskiller project (mentors, people, learning) and I wanted to go deeper into different concepts and areas through projects that focussed on different UX skills (e.g. advanced research, advanced prototyping). The projects in the career launcher course all seemed very interesting and I thought they would help me create an amazing portfolio of work to showcase.

Development
How did your skills improve over the 4 projects you completed?

I have grown immensely as UX/UI designer over the 4 projects. When i first started, I had a background and understanding of UX from my role at PwC, but I had never picked up a single prototyping tool before. I also didn’t have the confidence to call myself a UX/UI designer. 4 projects later, I have real world experience across every stage of the end-to-end design thinking process, have a wide range of tools and methods I can use in the design process, I can prototype in 4 different tools and I can confidently say I am now a UX/UI designer.

Challenges
Did you encounter any challenges during the projects?

The main challenges I encountered were balancing the projects with the pressures of full time work. However, this was mostly mitigated by the flexibility built into Harness classes (classes are virtual, held at night and mentors and workload is flexible). The other challenge was trying to work and collaborate virtually with your teammates who may be located all over Australia or globally. This was a great challenge in learning how to work virtually to collaborate in design, and picking up tools such as Miro to help with this process.

Advice
How would you describe a Harness Project for those who have yet to join one?

If you’re thinking of transitioning to a career in UX/UI design and you don’t know where to start, I 100% recommend diving in and trying out a Harness project! Harness projects will give you the breadth of skills you need to become a better UX/UI designer and help build a portfolio you can use to increase your employability. I truly believe the best way to accelerate learning is to work on projects rather than get stuck in theory. Harness gives you the unique chance to do that with real clients. You also have the opportunity to network with some incredible mentors who will shape your career and collaborate with teammates who are all in the same boat as you. If you are about to start the course, I would say put in the time and effort to produce some great outputs for your clients, what you put in is what you will get out of the courses. Putting that extra effort will help you produce a great portfolio and build valuable skill sets as a designer. Finally, the mentors in the courses give you unique insights and advice into the industry and what it takes to land a role. This is very valuable when you are looking for jobs in the field.

Follow Ananda’s footsteps and check out our Career Launcher UX Course.