Portfolio Highlight: Vanessa Kwan, UX Design

By Samantha Preddie June 8, 2020
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Creating a show-stopping project for your portfolio is an important component of the UX Design Diploma program at BrainStation and for anyone looking to pursue a career in design. 

Case in point: this excellent portfolio by recent graduate, Vanessa Kwan. 

We spoke with Kwan to find out more about her learning experience and her capstone project: Lemon House. 

Making the Change 

Kwan was educated in the sciences, but when it came time to enter the workforce, she decided to switch focus and pursue a career she’d love. 

“I went to university for a science degree, but knew that wasn’t where my passion lied, and I really wanted to be in a field that challenged me creatively.” She learned about UX design from some friends and was intrigued by the mix of research and design.

“I wanted to take the chance at pursuing my passions and taking a leap of faith in trying to change careers,” she said, explaining her decision to join BrainStation’s UX Design Diploma program. 

The Student Housing Problem

For her capstone project, Kwan decided to create Lemon House, a mobile app focused on improving post-secondary students’ experience searching for somewhere to live off-campus.

Kwan was familiar with the excitement that comes with finding new-found freedom in university and living with friends near campus. But, finding that dream house wasn’t easy.

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“Being a student living away from home for the first time in an unfamiliar city, there was a lot of information to know before signing a lease,” Kwan said.  

She explains that house hunting is time-consuming and disorganized without a localized space to view rental spaces, neighborhood information, or leasing details. It can also be stressful having to sift through Google searches, Kiji ads, Facebook groups, rental pages, to say nothing of contacting landlords and signing leases. It’s a lot to juggle for a new student who might be doing most of the house-hunting remotely. 

“Why does the process of finding housing have to be so stressful and lengthy?” 

Lemon House consolidates all rental properties suitable for college students, making it easier to find the perfect home near your new campus. 

The Design Process

As with any good Designer, Kwan started by digging into the data. She found that rental prices were increasing and that the average student spends over five months searching for off-campus accommodations. She then researched the current house-hunting process and interviewed current students. 

Once she began developing design concepts, user feedback became essential and was extremely helpful in refining the design. 

“Asking for feedback […] helped with keeping in mind to always re-engage the users. I also learned to apply my own critical judgment to sort out and define the most important feedback to apply towards the design.”

Before beginning the diploma program, Kwan had a limited design background, but she quickly learned to apply the elements of UI and use a grid/spacing system.

“I had to make many iterations of my screens before the final product,” Kwan shared. “It was challenging, but I definitely really enjoyed the process because looking back at my work I can really see a growth in my learning.”

Safe to say, the end result is a beautiful example of thoughtful design.

The BrainStation Experience

At the end of it all, Kwan is happy with what she learned and more importantly the people she was able to meet. 

“A highlight of my time at BrainStation would have to be meeting and getting close to everyone in my cohort,” she remembers. 

“I learned a lot from the other students as we worked and helped each other on projects. I was also able to glimpse what the data science and web development students do through BrainStation 3D – it was a great opportunity to work with the other disciplines and create a product within a short amount of time.”

Kwan is now ready to take the next step and launch her career in UX Design.