The Way We Teach Ourselves: How Our Internal Training System Evolved

I can remember my first week at UX studio pretty well. Three years ago our whole company could fit into a small apartment. Obviously designed for housing and not businesses, it looked out on a neighborhood just outside the Budapest city center from the fourth floor of an old apartment building

We had two small meeting rooms and always had to cross one to get to the toilet. At that time we didn’t really have an elaborate internal training system for the newcomers. But since then, this has changed a lot.

My first week at UX studio…

On my first week, our CEO David held a one-week bootstrap training about our design process for us. We had a one-hour presentation every morning. Then we had time to work on our dummy project, a digital application David predefined; mine: an HR recruitment desktop app.

I also remember my anxiety on first having to conduct a usability test on it and my happiness at finishing on Friday, getting feedback for my “first project” at UX studio.

Internal taining system: old office picture

This is how our office looked 3 years ago (We are in jackets because.. well accidentally we had no heating on that day when the photo was taken)Thus started our internal training system. After a few years, it had evolved and changed a lot. Every year we realized it lacked some parts, so we would add different kinds of trainings or courses to the training process every now and then.

When someone joins our company today, they look ahead to a half-year training phase full of different kinds of educational workshops, lessons and practice opportunities.

Internal taining system: education timeline
Our full internal training process

On your first week

If you get through our recruiting process and we hire you – as a designer or researcher –  you won’t get any projects during your first week. Instead, you get a one-week bootstrap training, just like we did back in the good old days. But today, we use a slightly different method.

Internal taining system: person educating themselves

David holds a very basic “UX Foundations” presentation, but your future colleagues will hold the others. It gives new hires a great opportunity to learn from the best professionals in those specific fields, as specifically they usually give the presentations.

We have different training for designers and researchers. During this week, you get the opportunity to try out some basic UX research methods very quickly and roughly. You also get to design your own product. Building up your product idea based on real user interviews, your colleagues help on user journeys and prototypes.

By the end, you can test yours. It makes for an intense but super-rewarding week. It gives the opportunity to not only try out our basic UX design process but also get to know your colleagues better.

Then you get a mentor

Back in my time, our professional education ended at this point. After our first week, we started work on a project in a team. Later, we got project management training and would become full members. But after a few years, we realized new recruits needed more help.

That led us to introduce mentoring for the first two months. Now, during this period you can learn from your team members, but also from a dedicated professional mentor. They consult with you about your ongoing project weekly and also help in the researcher or designer challenge.

Internal taining system: mentor at work
Your mentor will help you and guide you through your first months

Then a challenge. Wait, what challenge?

We created a professional challenge for designers and researchers so they can practice and learn more during their first two months at UX studio.

Our designer challenge

Since our basic training focuses more on UX design and process, our designer challenge deals more with creating good-looking UI designs. Basing it on the 100 Days of UI Challenge (since a lot of our team members have already tried it), we do really appreciate that way of practicing.

However, we don’t expect anyone to do it when starting here; we expect you to create one to three quick UI eye-candies per week. Then you have a weekly challenge review, meeting with your mentor and with some random designers who give feedback. Sometimes older designers also join the challenge just for fun.

Internal taining system: Challenge
One of Bence Vitárius’s design challenge

Our researcher challenge

We have a very similar method for our new researchers, only a bunch of different research methods fill their challenge. If you start here as a researcher, your mentor will help with these tests and experiments, which you may also try out during your project.

After finishing with all the methods assigned to try out, your mentor organizes you a meeting. There you present your findings and share your experiences with the whole research team!

Then we create a competency map for you

After two months, we don’t really refer to you as a “newbie” anymore, what with your finished challenge. If you reach this point in the company, we consider you a full member of the team and help measure and plan your professional development.

In an effort to improve competency management in our team, we created a personal competency map for every person at the company. It shows where each person stands in terms of each skill, showing which areas to focus on. It also helps later when you want to track progress in developing those skills. The maps serve goals not only on a personal but also a team level for team leaders because they can get a better overview of the team skill-set as a whole.

Internal taining system: competency map created
Competency map

Product Management Course

At UX studio we don’t have account or product managers to communicate between clients and the design team. We believe that if our designers become a part of their team, it makes for the best way to build something great with our clients. As a result, we communicate with our clients directly.

Of course, this means that around design knowledge, our colleagues ought to have good project managing skills as well. So we created a one-week project management course where after their third to the fifth month, our new members have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and develop management-based soft skills.

Internal taining system: team picture

This training teaches the basic rules of product management and client communication. We also have a project planning course and some role-playing games to practice even especially difficult client discussions. After this course, our newcomers can serve as project leaders on their projects.

Additional trainings after your first six months

Workshop Facilitation Course

The idea of a workshop facilitation training first came up in one of our weekly “how we work” meetings. At that time, we were already running workshops for our clients, but the style and methods we used during these workshops varied greatly, depending on the facilitator.

We decided to get professional external facilitation training and find a way to somehow unify our methods and way of facilitation. Afterward, we created shorter, in-house facilitation training for the newcomers.

Internal taining system: workshop in progress

So for now on, even though we love to vary and change some of the methods, all of us can obtain the same knowledge about workshop facilitation. This way, our clients will also get the same level of professionalism from each one of us.

Copywriting Training

One colleague really wanted to know how to write great copy in her projects. She read a lot about the subject and also ran a few workshops for the team about copywriting. Later, she also created a separate copywriting training and workshop for our newcomers.

Sprint Training

Currently, we are working on our one-day design sprint training. Just like in the case of the workshop facilitation training, we first decided to have a professional design sprint trainer teach us. After that, we decided to create our own in-house beginner training. Next year, it will also form part of our newcomer training system.

After your first year

These trainings mark the end of our obligatory new member trainings. But this does not mean we don’t have other opportunities to learn new things at UX studio! We usually have English courses every week and we plan and organize a lot of different courses and workshops for ourselves.

We hold a coding course almost every year. Furthermore, whenever we feel a lack of some field, we try to find a way to educate ourselves on it. Sometimes we even have trainings or events which don’t especially connect with UX design, such as on makeup or hand lettering.

Now you know how our newcomer training has evolved. This journey awaits you at UX studio as a designer or researcher. But it wouldn’t surprise me if we add or refine some of them again soon. Here at UX studio, we constantly try to get better at what we do. We might add even more currently missing trainings or methods to our system. If you want to join this team, check out our open job positions!

Want to know more about us?

Would you be interested in applying our internal training methods on your team? Sign up for one of our 3-day UX Training.

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Luca Morovián

I'm a UX designer who's highly interested in social innovations, design thinking methods and hand lettering. Sometimes I get so fascinated about how emerging technologies change our lives and communities that I write an article about it.