One of the unique features of the CareerFoundry experience is our mentor community - we work with a wide variety of mentors in iOS development, web development, UX design and UI design, from all over the globe.
In order to increase the visibility of our wonderful mentors and give you the chance to get to know them even better, we have created Mentor Spotlights. In today’s spotlight, Dhaval Gandhi shares his unusual path towards becoming UX designer, what he enjoys most about mentoring aspiring UX designers, and why he believes in the value of online learning.
First encounters with UX design
Like many UX designers, Dhaval wasn’t always planning to be a UX designer. In fact, it first occurred to him in Italy while studying his Master’s degree in Computer Science. In his first lecture on human-computer interaction, the professor used an example which resonated with him - the design of the first ATM machine in India. It turned out that Dhaval’s professor had worked on redesigning the machines to be more user-friendly, and Dhaval realized how much potential there is for design improvements across so many products that we use day-to-day, and how this could have a positive impact on people’s lives.
However, he is very clear on the fact that users are only one side of the equation. “As a UX designer, it is not only necessary to understand users’ needs, but equally to understand business objectives and the market.”
Indeed, he believes that the multifaceted nature of UX design is one of its central characteristics and working with different people is crucial. “Not only does it demand a broad scope of knowledge, but it often involves working alongside a variety of people. You may need to work closely with the team, including visual designers and software engineers. Then once you have a product or a service ready to test, you will be involved in user testing activities, interacting with end users and getting their feedback.”
Working as a UX designer
Naturally, the nature of UX also depends on the sector in which you decide to work. Dhaval has had the opportunity to work in the corporate field, for startups, for an agency, as a freelancer, and even in a research institute. As such, he has interesting snapshots of each, and is able to use practical examples with his students.
One of his greatest achievements in the corporate field, and an example his students can learn from, involved coming up with the new design for an ecommerce purchase journey. He was tasked with redesigning the process so that it would take only 2 minutes, based on an old design that took more than 8 minutes.
He’s also worked freelance for clients in India and across the globe, including startups. He speaks fondly of working with startups, where it is a lot easier to push through major redesigns than in the more established companies he has worked with.
When he’s not mentoring, Dhaval works on several fascinating projects, including the #simpleindia campaign. From his home in Pune, he works on creating design solutions for problems faced by normal people in their day-to-day life in India. From finding a solution that allows Indian students to get a transfer certificate to a solution that facilitates water supply management in rural India, Dhaval’s projects are challenging the status quo.
The beauty of online education
Dhaval has been mentoring CareerFoundry students since 2014, and to date he has mentored over 65 students. He was attracted firstly by the opportunity to exchange knowledge and share his first-hand experiences. Secondly, he believes in the model of community learning with mentors and peers - all while following a great curriculum.
Where does he feel students need most mentor guidance from him? “I receive many questions as to why a particular method is used, what methods should be used for a particular challenge, how to create a design solution based on user research, and how to validate design with users. The best practice I have identified to support student queries is to present them with a practical example or case study. It becomes easier for them to understand how all methods work together and translate users’ needs into a design solution.”
As well as mentoring, Dhaval continues to learn online. “It’s been six years that I have been personally learning a lot through online learning. It ranges from design to the business domain. The best aspect for me is the conveniency… I can learn at any time and anywhere”.
Advice for aspiring UX designers
The advice Dhaval gives to all aspiring UX designers is the same: Follow a user-centered design approach with three phases:
By keeping your users in mind at all times, you can help your business to achieve its goals. He believes that the same UX principles he teaches his students are what make CareerFoundry courses attractive for aspiring UX designers; the course content is built with ongoing user research, user-centric design, and continuous iterations with evolving content and design.
What about tips for someone who is unsure if a career in UX design is for them? Dhaval’s advice is “Go out and do your research! There is so much information online, you can sign up for free tutorials or short courses and see if you enjoy it. I would always recommend it as a career choice, in this age more than ever before we need UX design to facilitate the relationship between technology and human beings.”
Are you interested in a career in UX design? Sign up for our free, 7-day UX Design Short Course and learn a new UX design skill each day. If you’re ready to take the plunge, register for our UX Design Course and study to become a UX designer in 3 to 6 months.