Ming Zhang's ePortfolio

A City Tech OpenLab ePortfolio

App Review: Enki

I want to improveĀ at my coding skills in order to design aĀ better website in the future. In order to do that I have to rely on website that have tutorials to teach me how to code a certain language. Websites like Code Academy is great when I’m on my laptop. However, what about when I’m on the train or waiting fro a stop. I can rely on this app called Enki. It is a great app for android that helps me improve my coding skills by providing me information similar to code academy. It provides me fun mini gamesĀ and quizzes for any programming language out there. This app was provides help with languages like JavaScript, Python, CSS, HTML, git, Linux and Java. It hasĀ Ā tips, tricks and best practices . Ā Enki has definitely helped improve my skills in using programming languages like JavaScript to help improve my web design. The only downside is that the app is on an invite only basis and you need to sign up at their website for an invite code.


App Review: UXness

One of the apps that I use often is called UXness. It is for Android and what I like about it is that it has a vast resource of information about user experience. When I need to look up a certain terminology UX related I would just open the app and it’s available for me. It’s a good app for me to study about user experience when i’m on the train heading home so that it can help me in the future when I pursue a career in UX. There are also other things like finding interesting articles on Usability, User Experience design, Interaction design and Human Centered design. There are also quizzes about UX as well as step by step methods in UX designing such as preparing wireframes.

Self Evaluation

Working at Viacom has been a great experience. I learned a lot of about how an app for a big brand like MTV is created. In essence I learned about how media companies like ViacomĀ develop apps for their many channels that they own. There is a lot of steps in designing an app that will satisfy their users. From user testing sessions to researching competitors it all comes into play when designing the right app.

I was happy that this internship was not just Ā a place where I would be doing administrative task. I was part of a team and I helped as much as possible to design something that will actually be released out into the public. I learned about bonding as a team, the importance of communication and the social structure in a corporate company like Viacom. There is a lot of design rules in Viacom and it seems like they limit your sense of creativity, but I believe that is a good thing because having a set path can help bring out the product quicker and see from the feedback of the user if there is anything to change.

I am happy to have Jason as my supervisor because he was always there to keep in check with me. I stepped out of my Ā boundary of working quietly and actually spoke up to him if I think anything was wrong with the work. I would ask a lot questions and even when I don’t know anything I was not afraid to ask questions. Working at Viacom has gave me experience in what it is like to design for a corporate company. Best of all there were a lot of perks for working at such a big company such as free conferences and attending free events.

Road map planning session

One thing I realized from interning at Viacom was that they plan ahead far ahead from their launch updates on their apps. The designers collaborate with the developers and product managers in order to plan out what should be done in certain time increments. In order for everyone to be aware of what’s going on in each team they have the employees attend a road map meeting session at Viacom Time Square building. Jason told me that I should attend in order to get a better understanding on how they plan on releasing certain builds of the MTV app.

My experience at this road map meeting was kind of boring. I don’t think designers really need to be there since they just hand the designs files to the developers. However, Jason explained to me that designers need to be there to support the developers in communicating with the product managers on what is going to happen with future designs. They need to be there to help them keep up to date with information and help them if they don’t know how to explain the up coming design changes on the apps.

The place that we were having this meeting was kind of big and there were also refreshments and lunch provided. It was the whole day from 9am to 5pm and I think I stayed in that place without leaving for the whole day. It was sort of like a big conference/meeting in some sort of way. Overall it was a good experience in understanding how a company like Viacom plans things in term of releasing their apps to the public.

Trip to Cooper Hewitt

I wasn’t available to go to the Cooper Hewitt with the Internship class, but I was able to go there alone during the weekend. I think it was the same day when they had the New York Marathon going on because as I was heading there I saw people cheering fro runners near the park. I didn’t know it was free for CUNY students to go to Cooper Hewitt when I paid for it online, but it didn’t matter much to me.

At the Cooper Hewitt I was given a pen and explain that it was a digital logged pen where you record anything interesting you found at the Museum and save it in your pen. It was similar to a Pinterest where anything you see you can save it and show it on your dashboard of all the things that you recorded. I found that interesting and kept in mind when looking at pieces at the museum. Honestly, there wasn’t anything that peaked my interest. I did like seeing the miniature architecture buildings and some of the porcelainĀ vases were shiny and great to see on display. ON the third floor was filled with people’s architectural work but nothing that was worth noting. I did record somethings with the pen but I found ti too much of a gimmick.

Overall I did enjoy my time there and it was great to see historical pieces of art that you don’t usually see at a grander museum like the Met or MoMa. The digital pen log was a nice plus.

Trip to Dia Museum

Since the head boss of the department want’s to form relationships between each design team he decided to plan a trip to the Dia: Beacon MuseumĀ in upstate New York. I wanted to get to know more about the other design teams in our department so I decided to go on Friday. We all had to meet early in the morning at Grand Central Station in order to take the Metro North up to the Beacon. Honestly it has been a while since I’ve taken the Metro North upstate and was excited for this experience.

It was a pretty sunny and warm day and the upstate scenery was very pretty during the Autumn season. I can see a lot of the autumn foliage near the museum and the front building of the museumĀ looked very square shaped and symmetrical. In my opinion the museum wasn’t very interesting. I’m not too big of a fan of contemporary art pieces which the museum contained. We had a tour of half of the museum and as the tour guide was explaining various piece I wasn’t really catching on and couldn’t understand why someone would create such an art piece. I think if I studied more on contemporary art then I would have a appreciation of all the various things I was looking at in the Beacon.

During the afternoon we were provided with lunch so we all ate outside near the grass at the Beacon. The scenery was quite pleasant and the the lunch wasn’t that bad even though it was only a turkey sandwich. There was a bee flying around as we were eating and it was quite distracting. However, I learned more about the other designers at Viacom. I also met another intern Regina, who is a graduate student from NYU. I learned what she does as an intern and how she was originally from Norway and came to America to get her Masters Degree. Overall it was a nice day to form a relationship with other people at my department.

Meetings with the other design teams

Every Wednesday afternoon all the design teams in the Viacom Music and Entertainment department would have a meeting together. I dont’ often attend these meetings because this is the same time that I would have my internship class. However, when I do go it is quite interesting. I was able to meet the Vice President of Product Design, Jon who is the head boss of Jason. I was also able to meet the team working on MTV news and events.

During these meetings there are different things going on each week. There would be critiques on the designs on team is working on. A review on a certain user testing sessions a team has went through. In general it is a meeting that helps understand what other teams are working on. This is sort of a bigger version of my daily meeting with my own team. I believe having these big meetings is great in order to bond with the other design teams. Jon, our head boss in the whole department believes highly in forming a relationship with other designers in order to build a better product for Viacom. I agree that communication is key when working in a team and it can help when you need to design a better app for people to use.

Following a style guide

While working on the MTV app mock up for Android I was introduced to MTV’s style guide. Jason explained to me that MTV has their own style guide and it is followed in every platform on MTV. From their website to mobile app, there is a set of rules like fonts and colors that is used throughout. Seeing this style guide I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to design the app from scratch. I was able to see what I had to follow and went on to design from there.

I was also able to look at the design choices that my coworker Ayano did for the iOS version and implement it in my Android version. Jason explained to me that working on the Android version wasn’t suppose to be hard because all the resuource was there for me to look at. He was right and it didn’t take time before I was actually understanding the MTV brand and incorporating it with Material design in order to create a mock up version for Android.

New coworker and new work

After working on the MTV app for Android I would present it to my other coworkers during our weekly afternoon meetings. During this meeting we would each represent what we were working on as well as get feedback from each other. This was also the day that our team got introduced to a new coworker. His name is Skylar and he was originally from Orange County, California. He was working as a product designer at Oakley before deciding to move to the east coast to work at Viacom. It’s always interesting to met someone from the west coast and getting their insights on design. Skylar seems like a interesting person because he always has something to say and easy to get along with. I guess having these qualities are Ā needed in order to communicate well when in a team.

After getting some feedback and meeting our new team member I was also introduced to other work asked to be done by Jason. Since my design work for Android was not in a rush to be finished I was able to do other design work for MTV. I was asked to create screens on Sketch for the current version of MTV for iOS as well as work on the screens for MTV Xbox One version. This wasn’t a hard thing to do because I had to look over Comedy Central’s Xbox One app version and just re skin it with MTV branding. Jason explained to meĀ that Viacom looks to implement similar designs for all of their channels so that it can be consistent throughout.

Working on MTV app

One of the things I got to do during the internship was help support the design process of the MTV app for both iOS and Android. My coworker Ayano was in charge of desgingin the MTV Nextgen app that will be released in the second quarter of next year. I helped her with visual quality assurance and checking to see if anything was wrong with her mock up design of the app.

The way we design our mock ups at Viacom is using a vector based program called Sketch. It’s an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. I believe that people who are working in the app design industry are shifting towards Sketch due to it’s many advantages. After using Sketch while interning at Viacom I can see why. It’s simple to use and the interface is not so intimidating as compared to Adobe Illustrator.

While supporting Ayano with the iOS app of MTV I was also assigned to designing a mock up for the Android version. This was a big responsibility for me because I was assigned to work on something that they will be using in the future. Jason believed in my skills so I knew that I had to work hard on this project in order to satisfy his expectations. I went through a lot of steps before actually starting on the design in Sketch. I researched on other apps similar to MTV on Android and see their design choices. I also learned about Material design and how it is used in almost every Android app. I plan to use Material Design in the MTV app for Android.

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