Meet Ranmalee Mendis
UX Graduate from the Upskiller UX Course
Ranmalee Mendis
Project Manager | UX Graduate
Completed the

In May 2020, Ranmalee completed our UX Project with Smiling Mind.  On this project Ranmalee embarked on a 9 week journey to learn the fundamentals of User Experience design while working on a live client project.

Ranmalee Mendis
The Company

Who are Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind is one of Australia’s leading mindfulness organisations. As a not-for-profit, it provides life-long tools that are accessible to both children and adults - to support healthy minds. It delivers the benefits of mindfulness and meditation via a free app, face-to-face workshops, primary school curriculums and other resources that can be used by both teachers and employers.

The Brief

The project UX design brief objective

In this project, we were required to reimagine the mobile app ‘Mind the Bump’ originally launched in 2015 – and part of a suite of products developed by Smiling Mind to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of individuals and couples preparing to have a baby and becoming a parent. We were to (i) research and define the user needs of the target audience; and (ii) design an improved user experience that aims to satisfy user goals and maintain engagement through repeat usage, over the 9 months of pregnancy and 24 month postnatal period.

Week 1

Meet the Team

In the first week, we were introduced to our fellow classmates and Project Mentor, Jason Crane who explained the brief, how the weekly sessions would run and the various tools for managing and delivering on our projects. We were also introduced to the ‘Double Diamond’ model of research and design. I found this orientation to be very helpful in understanding expectations and it was fun to meet my classmates from diverse backgrounds and from various parts of Australia – all online!

Ranmalee introduces herself to the team

Week 2

Meeting your stakeholder

Our first session with the client, Aaron Blakemore (Principal Product Designer at Smiling Mind) went well. As a group, we prepared a list of key questions  beforehand, themed and then allocated them amongst ourselves. Hearing the client’s perspective – in particular the history of its evolution and key challenges faced was helpful to understand the context as not everything can be articulated in a brief. UX is the intersection of achieving business goals, meeting user needs – whilst being cognisant of constraints. Our meeting with Aaron helped to drive this point and his and his approachable style made us feel like a real stakeholder in this project.

Ranmalee interviews her client stakeholder

Weeks 3 - 5

The Research Phase

The research phase was most interesting to me as it put us in direct contact with users. In this phase, we developed personas, user journey maps as well as conducted a competitive business landscape analysis. We were also introduced to the lean business canvas model.  I undertook a series of online and face-to-face interviews with both pregnant mothers-to-be and mothers with young kids. Consolidating the group’s interview responses meant we had a richer dataset to analyse and inform the design phase. Our mentor provided the perfect balance of being both supportive and also holding us accountable to meet the client brief. I especially appreciated the prompt response from our mentor and the availability of 1:1 consults within reason. As well, it was useful to hear Jason’s lived design experience with past clients which further contextualised some of the theory of UX learnt.

Ranmalee UX Research

Weeks 6-8

The Design Phase

Synthesising data from the research phase, we were now in a position to consider the insights and opportunities and how we might design an appropriate solution. This was the fun part – ideating on potential solutions! (Digital) prototyping was the next step and for me, the most challenging part of the course as – unlike some of my counterparts on the course – I have had no prior experience in using any design or graphic tools. In this case, we used InVision. It was quite a learning curve but became easier the more I used the tool. I then did some usability testing using the prototypes and iterated based on their feedback.

Ranmalee UX Design

Week 9

Final Presentations

Being one of the first few to present, I must admit I was somewhat nervous initially, however I had spent some time ahead going through mock presentations with friends so that I could anticipate questions. A 15-minute presentation meant that I had to be focussed. Overall, the feedback was good and I felt a major sense of accomplishment, having created a potential design solution to a real-world project from a zero base of knowledge! It was also fascinating to see and learn from my classmates who all had a different take on the reimagined app.

Ranmalee Slack

Graduation

Ranmalee's Outcomes

One key lesson learnt for me is that you don’t need a ‘perfect’ prototype to get user feedback. Another takeaway is being comfortable and appreciating an iterative approach to design solutioning – I recently secured a new role that involves the roll-out of an enterprise-wide CRM system which has required me to apply concepts learnt in this course and continue my UX journey.

Overall, I really enjoyed this learning experience. It was a highlight for 2020, considering the challenges of COVID-19. The live weekly classes, access to a mentor and employability scorecard report at the end were features that I found particularly valuable. If there are others like me – i.e. without a design background typically associated with UX, so hesitant but still curious to learn – I would highly recommend enrolling in the Upskiller UX program. 

Outcome

At the conclusion of the project, Ranmalee was assessed for the skills she demonstrated during the 9 week project. These were certified and co-signed by Harness Projects and Smiling Mind to acknowledge the great work she achieved on the project.

Ranmalee's Final Presentation

Follow Ranmalee’s footsteps and check out our Upskiller UX Course