Wrapping Up a Summer of Design

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
Inevitably, I've seen a lot of personal blogs start out very strong only to slowly tapper off into sporadic posts before eventually entering the death throws of neglect. I was afraid the same fate was going to befall my own blog. My last post occurred in June, an unfortunate far cry from the original goal I set of blogging at least once per week. While it's a little disheartening that I haven't been able to find the time to keep the DailyDoog updated with frequency, there is also a good reason for my absence.

Beginning back in June and concluding earlier this week, I enrolled in two design classes at the San Francisco Academy of Art University. The two courses were both within the concentration of Web Design & New Media. The first course, WNM 105: Design Technology, covered a wide range of topics focused on color, typography, vector/bitmap graphics, grid layouts, etc. The second course, WNM110: Concept, Design, and Process, focused on the application of those same principles primarily through a series of digital projects in Adobe Illustrator.

Before enrolling in this class, the most recent design education I had received was back in High School. While a student at UW, the majority of my time there was spent taking business and technology-centric classes. While I was more than happy with those curriculum choices at the time, it felt really good to wander outside my comfort zone with my recent art-themed undertaking.

I've gotten very used to taking courses where there is a binary definition of right and wrong. In a computer science class, if your code compiles and runs efficiently, you can likely expect to receive a good grade on that assignment. With design however, I might spend a long time working on an assignment only to have no idea what grade I might receive upon submission. The subjectiveness of the material and the difficulty of the assignments definitely kept me on my toes over the two-month summer semester.

One of my principle motivators for taking these classes is that I plan on eventually applying into graduate school. Specifically, were I ever to leave my job at Google, I would love to earn a masters in Human Computer Interaction. I especially have my eye on the Human Computer Design & Engineering User Centered Design Pathway up at UW (I will forever be a Husky at heart. I bleed purple and gold!).

Currently however, I do a lot of programming and application development at Google and increasingly a bigger part of that is focused on the front-end user experiences of the applications that I build. I felt that not having at least a fundamental understanding of digital design principles was holding me back with regard to the overall usability of my application implementations. Needless to say, I am looking forward to incorporating what I learned this summer into some of my future projects at work.

WNM105 and WNM110 make for a total of four classes that I have taken while employed at Google since March of last year. Google provides up to $12,000 USD each year for any employee who wants to continue with their education part-time. I previously took two classes focusing on the programming language Python and on HTML5 and CSS3.

While I very much enjoyed the coursework I completed this summer, I am also looking forward to having some free time again. My plan is to start applying what I learned this summer into some new projects I will be starting in August. Look forward to more frequent blog posts between now and then.

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.