Reflections from our Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) user experience intern
May 14, 2020
Hello everyone! I am, Alena Huang, a student at the University of Notre Dame studying Visual Communication Design. I joined the team as a User Experience Intern for 9 months during the school year.
Coming into the internship, I didn’t have too much experience in user experience, but it was something I was interested in. I had some experience in HTML/CSS and web design, but other than that, I had a lot to learn about UX!
I’ve learned about all the different aspects of user experience and how they all fit within the process of design.
The very first thing that I worked on was a content audit and sitemap for ONRR.gov. This was really helpful in understanding the content and getting a sense of the scale of the information that the ONRR website provided. It was so surprising to see how many files were available to the public!
Throughout the internship, I learned how not only to create questions for interviews, but also how to conduct user interviews and testing. I enjoyed user interviews because this is where you get a sense of how users interact with the product. After researching through user interviews, analysis reports (reports from old surveys, comparative analysis reports, etc.), and site analytics, my team and I were able to come up with five personas and their user flows for ONRR.gov. Additionally, I recently created a card sort to better understand how users grouped information on the website!
Earlier in my internship, I helped in brainstorming different ways to visualize data on the Natural Resource Revenue Data website, which is the data website that the ONRR team manages. Under the Explore data page, I helped design concepts for cards that will allow users to easily compare data between different states and regions. Near the end of my internship, I was able to redesign the style guide of the ONRR website, including colors, fonts, and other UI elements. After creating the guide, I created prototypes for the homepage, contact page, and reporter checklist page that showcase basic visual design and information architecture.
Although my internship was completely virtual, I enjoyed getting to know everyone on the ONRR team. Everyone is so welcoming and willing to teach me more about the process of developing a live, open-source government product. Whenever I went onto their conference calls for sync ups, they always included me in the conversation. I would especially like to thank Shannon McHarg and Lindsay Goldstein for being amazing mentors, as well as Annie Persson for being the best co-intern! I am incredibly thankful for everything that they have taught me and for giving me the opportunity to really dive deep into the process of user experience.
UX/UI Design is definitely on my radar; I am excited to take what I learned from this internship and use my skills in future projects!