Meet a Maker: Alex Wong

I'm excited to introduce you to another amazing alumni! Meet Alex Wong, a graduate from our very first cohort of UX & Product Design. He's landed on UX design as his passion, adding to his BA in Criminology and following a stint in the fashion industry.

After completing the course in May, Alex has started as the sole UX designer for health startup Right Blue Labs! We recently sat down to talk about his education path and the portfolio project that got his foot in the door.

Q: Before entering the UX & Product Design course, you went to Ryerson and George Brown. Is there a common thread through your educational path of criminology and fashion? How did you end up at Bitmaker?

Alex: Yes! There’s definitely a common thread, especially with Criminology. In that field you do social research on crime, on psychology, sociology. Most criminologists hold the ultimate goal of helping people. UX design also focuses on the social, by way of usability and crafting a pleasurable experience.

I have a lot of friends who are designers and have introduced me to the field. I’m interested in data and also feel like I have a creative flair, so they encouraged me to look into UX design.

Your own experiences inspired your portfolio project, Cut + Sew. Who did you centre your design choices around?

I chose to aim my project specifically at indie fashion designers. Cut + Sew offers a platform to those who are looking to gain exposure and access to the marketplace, but do not live in a fashion capital. This is a niche group, but is representative of my own experience in the fashion industry.

My peers who entered the field from fashion programs have consistently struggled to break into the market, and it’s difficult to successfully and gainfully sell your own products online. The major online selling platforms – Etsy, eBay – tend toward taking a sizeable cut of your earnings, or aren’t really suited for independent designer goods.

What inspired your design decisions?

Cut + Sew’s aesthetic is very similar to Instagram. The interface is a marketplace feed that constantly refreshes based on how many people are posting their goods. The feed is sorted in reverse-chronological order, so the first postings come up last in your feed. Instead of a comment section, there's a price tag.

I wanted to promote individualized interactions as a means for fostering community.

I decided that the app would be invite-only for sellers. I wanted to create something that was aimed at elevating graduates from fashion design programs around the world, so the sign-up would require a student email address from their school. The intended sellers on the platform are those who have made a dedicated commitment to a career in fashion.

There's an emphasis on one-on-one communication between the seller and buyer through direct messaging, to add a personal touch to the exchange. If there are questions about the details of a product (like sizing), you have to engage with the seller on a personal basis. I wanted to promote individualized interactions as a means for fostering community.

How has your conception of design changed through your experience at Bitmaker?

Prior to the course, I thought I had a solid understanding of what design – in the context of tech – entails. I’ve since realized that I did not. Once I immersed myself in the subject, my assumptions about the field became apparent – largely that designers are graphic designers. Though graphic design is important, the course is not about that. User experience centres creating something useful and enjoyable for others.

Going in, my end goal was simply to generate new and polished content for my portfolio. I left with my focus shifted, on wanting to make something effective for others. Amidst learning there was a major turning point in my understanding: a significant component to UX design is selflessness – it’s not supposed to be based on your personal preferences. No matter what you're creating, you have the greater good in mind.

Interested in learning UX design yourself? The next cohort of UX & Product Design starts in early September! Get in touch if you're thinking about joining.