UX & Visual Interface Design Alumni Story: Becoming a UX Designer A passion for UX design and a trio of UW Certificates prompted a positive change in Joan William's career
UX & Visual Interface Design Alumni Story: Becoming a UX Designer A passion for UX design and a trio of UW Certificates prompted a positive change in Joan William's career

Joan Williams had worked as a graphic designer for 10 years but had always been interested in more than just simple design. She preferred to take a holistic view of web design, so she could better understand a site from top to bottom.

When her company was struggling to connect the marketing and design departments with global web development, Joan saw it as an opportunity to expand her education through a UW certificate program.

But after completing the UW Certificate in Front-End Development with HTML, CSS & JavaScript, Joan wasn’t done learning. She moved on to the UW Certificate in JavaScript, which helped add to her toolkit and spurred her employer to move her to the global web development team.

Joan’s new team was redesigning the company’s website, which gave Joan firsthand experience with user experience design — and she was hooked.

“I got really interested in it,” she said. “User experience design is so amazing to me because I’ve always had this desire to really connect with the person who’s using whatever I’m making.”

Joan’s newfound passion for UX design led her to the UW Certificate in UX & Visual Interface Design, which marked a new phase in her career.

“Originally, I was going to go for it and just be this awesome front-end-developer,” she said. “But the UX certification inspired me to try to become a UX designer.”

A New Direction

Joan’s trio of UW certificates has helped her understand and empowered her to work on all phases of website construction.

“The front-end certificate helps you understand the basics of building a website, JavaScript adds that extra interactivity and the UX certificate really brings the user into the picture, so you can make sure that this website actually works for your customers,” Joan said. “I feel like this is the whole package.”

Joan appreciated the depth and breadth of the UX Design coursework, in particular: the holistic approach empowered her to tackle a problem from research to final product — including user interviews, information architecture and blueprinting.

“You’re really building an entire product from start to finish, and you can put that in your portfolio,” she said. “This is the kind of project that most hiring managers who are looking for UX people are looking for — the start-to-finish project. A lot of times, you don’t get that at a job. Usually, you’re thrown into a project that’s already done, and you’re trying to fix things. But in this certificate, you go from start to finish.”

The instructors in the UX Design certificate program are well-connected in the field, and Joan valued the access to like-minded professionals.

“The instructors are really active in the UX community, and they’ve actually introduced me to a lot of people in the UX field,” Joan said. “The networking possibilities of the certificate are really good, not only from the mentors and the lecturers, but also your cohort. You’re with the same 30 people for all three classes, and in the cohort you can also make a lot of really good connections.”

In Her Own Words

Joan Williams explains how the Certificate in UX & Visual Interface Design prompted a positive career change in a booming field.


Continuing Her Education

Joan valued the education and experience she accrued during the Certificates in Front-End Development and JavaScript, but once she began the Certificate in UX Design, she knew she’d found her calling.

“I love this UX certificate program,” she said. “It inspired me to a whole new, different level and meaning of life.”

Joan’s “new level” once again centers on continuing her quest for education. As a full-time freelance designer who works on front-end development, UX design and visual design, Joan “pretty much spans the entire gamut with all the certifications that I have from the UW,” she said. “But I wanted a little bit more.”

Joan applied to and was accepted into the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design at University of Washington.

“I’m not sure if I want to do UX research or focus more on the UX design and interface aspect of it, but I’m very interested in both,” Joan said. “Hopefully, I’ll get to do both.”

Whether in academia or the workplace, Joan believes the UW Certificate in UX & Visual Interface Design is a vital tool for anyone working in digital design.

“Honestly, I think everyone should take it who has a stake in any kind of digital product,” she said, “because they can see the entire timeline.”

For more alumni stories from UW Professional & Continuing Education, visit the News & Features section of our website. To learn more about our certificates, specializations, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.

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