About this project
The closed-captioned version of our project video can be viewed on YouTube.
More than two years ago, we started on a journey to find out what both students and hiring managers really need from UX education. Today, because of your support, we’ll turn research into a real school, Center Centre. Also—thanks to you—more than $20,000 has been pledged towards student scholarships. We are humbled by your awesomeness.
This Kickstarter campaign may be over but the Center Centre adventure continues.
Join our quest!
- Follow our research adventures at the Unicorn Institute.
- Find information about Center Centre on the school’s website.
- Keep in touch with @unicorninstitute, @jenseninman, and @jmspool.
STRETCH GOAL #2: Let’s bring on the students.
Every dollar pledged over $112,000 goes straight to students scholarships. Thank you for supporting the future of UX!
STRETCH GOAL #1: Bring on the school’s faculty.
We did it! You helped us reach $112,000 and now we can bring on Center Centre’s full-time faculty several months ahead of schedule.
Read Update #3 if you want the nitty-gritty of how this $112,000 stretch goal will make Center Centre even more awesome…
IN THE NEWS
- Enter the Unicorns —The Pulse
- Web Apps Raise The Ceiling Above HTML5 As Famo.us Recreates Facebook’s Paper —Forbes
- Calling all “unicorns”: User experience design school aims to draw, hone talent; help Chattanooga thrive —Nooga.com
- Chattanooga approved for unique user experience design school —Nooga.com
- Tech minds starting new, diploma-granting school in Chattanooga —Chattanooga Times Free Press
- THEC approves UX Design School in Chattanooga —Chattanooga Times Free Press
- Episode 60: Jared Spool —Happy Monday podcast
- The Trouble With Unicorns —Squirrel and Moose podcast
- Episode 104: With Leslie Jensen-Inman —Shoptalk Show podcast
- .NET Awards Category: Game Changer of the Year —.NET Awards
What if you could help shape the future of user experience (UX)? What if there was a place where you could easily find the UX talent you need to hire? What if there was a place you could go to learn all the skills you need to be hired as a UX professional?
Through our years of research, we’ve discovered a significant need for a holistic UX design program for adult learners—a program focused on both technical and interpersonal skills through project-based learning. This is why we’re making a new kind of UX design school called Center Centre.
We’ve already created the structure for the school. Now, it’s time to build the course content.
Create content for 30 courses for a brand new design school in seven months. Ambitious? Yes! Doable? Definitely!
Here’s how we’ll do it: We’ll work through an intensive course design process for each of the 30 courses. Through this process we will determine each course’s:
- learning goals
- learning activities
The 30 courses will cover topics like:
- interaction design
- user research
- visual design
- mobile integration
- copywriting and content strategy
- front-end development
- project management
- information architecture
COURSE DESIGN BY THE NUMBERS
Crafting cohesive course content can be quite complicated. We estimate that we will define about:
- 180 learning goals
- 150 assessment tools
- 30 course descriptions
- 30 course syllabi
- 60 resources
- 1 set of guidelines for industry-grade workshops
- 1 set of guidelines for team projects
- 1 set of guidelines for individual mastery projects
- 1 course design taxonomy
Yes, it’s a lot of work. However, with your help, we can secure the resources we need to take this huge step toward making the UX design school a reality.
WHY CREATE A NEW UX DESIGN SCHOOL?
You might be asking yourself: Why do we need a UX design school? Doesn’t this already exist someplace?
It’s true, you can learn parts of user experience design through a variety of programs, both online and in person. However, it’s challenging to piece together all of the required skills for a UX designer.
We’re creating a holistic program that connects education and industry to bridge the skills gap between what students learn and what industry needs. Our long-term goal is to create a bricks-and-mortar school where students learn the comprehensive skills to earn meaningful jobs in the field of user experience design.
We want to create a school to produce industry-ready UX professionals—otherwise known as “unicorns.” A UX unicorn is the ultimate generalists: a person who has the right mix of hard and soft skills.
We’ve talked with hundreds of hiring managers, UX professionals, and potential students. We’ve read over 60,000 pages of research. And we’ve integrated what we’ve learned into the structure of the school we’re creating. We’ve already accomplished a lot. In fact, we’re already authorized by the State of Tennessee as a diploma granting postsecondary school!
Our goal is to raise at least $21,700. Your pledge will allow Leslie to focus on the course design process. We’ll hire additional editors and writers to make up our course creation team.
Your contribution will help us change the future of UX education.
THERE’S A SIGNIFICANT NEED FOR UX PROFESSIONALS
There are 150,000 UX job listings in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of jobs. However, many job seekers don’t have the skills needed to qualify for the open UX positions.
Through our research, we’ve found that companies recognize the benefits of staffing their own permanent design teams. User experience designers are an integral part of the business solution. Companies need experienced designers with the right mix of hard, technical skills and soft, interpersonal skills. Companies need people who can jump in on any project at any time because they’re trained in all aspects of user experience design.
BE A PART OF THE STORY
It will take a lot of us working together to produce better qualified, industry-ready designers. In our organizations, we need knowledgeable and skilled professionals we can easily work with to create exceptional design for awesome experiences.
We’ve talked with many of you at conferences, on Twitter, and even over dinner. After hearing your challenges, we’re crafting a program to meet your needs. It’s up to all of us to invest resources into the next generation of UX unicorns. It’s up to all of us to work together—both in education and industry—to design our industry’s education. Join us at the Unicorn Institute to create a new design school. Together, let’s build Center Centre.
Are you in?
We are truly grateful to have Superfriends—a team of smart and passionate advisors, consultants, and champions—who continue to help shape how we build the school. It will take a team working together to build the right type of learning environment to move UX forward. Many of our Superfriends have gone above and beyond their role and generously donated and contributed their time, talent, and resources to help create amazing rewards specifically for this project.
A big thanks to our team of Superfriends who have contributed content! It’s challenging to contain all of the goodness for every aspect of each reward in the pledge column, so we’ve included detailed information about the rewards below.
Walls of Awesomeness
Once the school is opened (we’re aiming for Fall 2014), we will feature your name on our physical Wall of Awesomeness at the school. We’ll take photos of the wall and post them online.
We will also list your name on our digital Wall of Awesomeness—aka our website—for the entire world to see how grateful we are for your support.
Three of the finest designers we know—Daniel Burka, Veerle Pieters, and Khoi Vinh—each created Unicorn Institute Digital Wallpaper designs just for you. You’ll get three different wallpapers, each in three different sizes (desktop, tablet, and pocket).
Daniel Burka is a design partner at Google Ventures and the co-founder of Milk Inc.
Veerle Pieters is a Belgian graphic/web designer, author of Veerle's blog, and Duoh! chief of the playground.
Khoi Vinh was co-founder at the seminal interactive firm Behavior, former design director for NYTimes.com, and author of Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design.
Three of our Superfriends—Jina Bolton, Val Head, and Shaun Inman—have designed notebook cover art specifically for this project. Printed by Scout Books, each notebook will be 3.5in x 5in and will contain 32 pages of dot-grid paper. Each cover will be 100% recycled chipboard and will be offset printed with 2 colors of vegetable-based inks.
Jina Bolton is a designer, developer, and artist living in San Francisco. She also coauthored two books, Fancy Form Design and The Art & Science of CSS.
Val Head is a code- and type-obsessed designer and the founder of Web Design Day, co-host of Ladies in Tech podcast, and author of the CSS Animations Pocket Guide from Five Simple Steps.
Shaun Inman is an independent designer and developer living and working out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He created the web apps, Mint and Fever, the iOS game The Last Rocket, and is one third of Retro Game Crunch.
Charge Cycle Poster
Designed by Dan Cederholm
Dan Cederholm, co-founder of Dribbble, designed poster art specifically for this project that’s fully charged with magic. We’ll print these 18in x 24in posters using the highest quality—Buy Olympia’s 11-ink color process! (If you’re print geeks like us, you KNOW this means it’ll be fully saturated with awesomeness.)
As co-founder and designer of Dribbble, Dan helps build a community for designers and other creative types by allowing people to show and tell, promote, discover, and explore design. As designer, author, and speaker at SimpleBits, Dan shares his vast knowledge on design topics.
Get Aligned t-shirt designed by Cameron Moll
We asked Cameron Moll to create a special t-shirt for this project that will make you feel super-centered. Printed on Alternative Apparel, these t-shirts come in a variety of sizes in both women’s and men’s options. (You’ll receive a Kickstarter survey collecting your shirt size, style, and your shipping address.)
Cameron Moll is the founder of Authentic Jobs, where companies and creative professionals meet to make a better web. He’s also the artist behind a unique series of letterpress type posters that re-imagine buildings as if constructed entirely of type. As a designer, speaker, and author, Cameron shares his insights on the responsibilities of designers to make the world a better place.
Carefully Crafted Magic t-shirt by Ashley Kay Clark
Ashley Kay Clark designed these creative-infused t-shirts especially for this project. Printed on American Apparel, these t-shirts come in a variety of sizes in both women’s and men’s options. (You’ll receive a Kickstarter survey collecting your shirt size, style, and your shipping address.)
Designer and illustrator Ashley Kay Clark spends her days as Design Manager at Variable, Inc. Ashley gives her free time to organizations such as Glass House Collective, where she uses her design and illustration talents to help bring life back to a long-neglected area of Chattanooga, TN. Ashley’s commitment to community and design details can be seen through her design of this shirt.
In a land where animated GIFs run rampant, Ethan Marcotte, GIF sommelier and Responsive Web Design originator, has created a collection of animated GIFs specifically with our backers in mind. Allow Ethan to help you share your deepest thoughts through these expressions of emotional shorthand. (We will provide digital downloads of the GIFs.)
Secrets of Successful UX Design Teams book by Jared Spool.
Secrets of Successful UX Design Teams is a curated collection of articles Jared has published on the UIE website. This book is not available anywhere else. At this time, it is an exclusive offer through our Kickstarter project.
The Baker’s Dozen: Thoughts on Leadership, Design, and Learning book by Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman
The Baker’s Dozen is a collection of articles Leslie originally wrote for the Pastry Box Project plus a bonus article. This book is not available anywhere else. At this time, it is an exclusive offer through our Kickstarter project.
We will provide digital downloads of the eBooks.
All You Can Learn
Through his company, UIE, Jared offers a special Unicorn Institute Kickstarter subscription of content he has produced for the All You Can Learn seminars. Relish your 14 months of 24/7 access to this virtual library of seminars taught by experts in web and mobile design. The always-growing library currently includes one hundred and twenty 90 minute seminars. Topics include: visual design, user research, design process, information architecture, information design, experience design strategy, interaction design, and writing and content. It’s a great way to learn at your own pace, and with 14 months, you have plenty of time to take it all in. (Once the Kickstarter project concludes, we will provide backers a survey to collect contact information and give access to the All You Can Learn subscription.)
Dinner with Jared and Leslie
This meal allows 10 backers the chance to pick the brains of Jared and Leslie (and fellow backers). Backers will also enjoy a three-course meal of delicious, local food. Dinner will take place in Chattanooga, TN and is planned for Friday, May 2, 2014 (travel and accommodations are the responsibility of the backer). After this Kickstarter project ends, you’ll receive a survey to collect special dietary restrictions and contact information. Specific details on the time and location will be sent to you by April 2, 2014.
Unicorn Library Starter Kit
This is a very special limited-edition reward to help you start your own Unicorn Library.
We’ll provide Center Centre students many types of learning resources as part of the curriculum. The Unicorn Library Starter Kit brings a set of curated resources together for you.
We’ve selected nine UX books and two resource guides specifically for our backers (and our students). Together these resources create a solid foundation for any unicorn to expand his or her UX knowledge.
The Unicorn Library Starter Kit includes:
Three books from Rosenfeld Media:
- Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal
- The User Experience Team of One, A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley
- Content Everywhere, Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Three books from A Book Apart:
- Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte
- Content Strategy for Mobile by Karen McGrane
- Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter
Three books from New Riders:
- Undercover User Experience Design by Cennydd Bowles & James Box
- Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web & Mobile Application Design by Robert Hoekman
- Designing Together: The Collaboration and Conflict Management Handbook for Creative Professionals by Dan M. Brown
The Sketchbook Sketchbook illustrated by Adam Connor includes steps and tips on how to improve your sketching techniques. There’s also plenty of room in this 32-page, 3.5 x 5-inch sketchbook to practice your mad skills. The cover of this sketchbook will be a variation of Adam’s The Family Portrait illustration which we love because it visually shows one of the many paths to becoming a unicorn.
Adam, a self professed chronic doodler and illustrator, is a designer working on digital products and services at mad*pow.
The Usability Testing Pocket Guide by Dana Chisnell. This 32-page, 3.5 x 5-inch Field Guide includes steps and tips, along with a quick checklist to help you know whether the usability testing you’re doing will work. The prescriptions within the guide come from user experience experts, who have been doing and teaching usability testing for as long as the world has known about the method.
Dana is an author, speaker, and user experience research expert. Her work with usability lives at the intersection of best practices and testing in design.
Visit from Jared or Leslie
Jared or Leslie (backer’s choice) will visit each of these five lucky backers at their company, school, organization, or conference. We’ll work with you to determine how our skills can best help you or your team. The visit may take the form of a presentation, consultation, or other activity (up to three consecutive hours). We reserve the right to accept or decline proposed activities. Travel and additional expenses are not included and are the responsibility of the backer. Trip dates are subject to Jared’s and Leslie’s schedules and must occur within 12 months from the end of our Kickstarter project.
Hey Non-US folks: We want you to have any reward we offer. We’ve created digital-only rewards that are easy, because there’s no shipping or other fees. And we’ve priced a reasonable international shipping fee for the notebooks and t-shirts. However, some countries require additional duty fees and tariffs. We’re sorry but you’ll be responsible for paying those.
We plan to craft the course content over seven months. Our plan: start in March and end in September.
March: Begin course design. Research and choose the course design taxonomy. Start writing descriptions, learning goals, assessments, guidelines for individual mastery projects, guidelines for team projects, guidelines for industry-grade workshops, resources, and course syllabi for the first 8 courses for our first-year students.
April: Finish the first 8 first-year courses.
May: Start the last 8 courses for our first-year students.
June: Finish the last 8 first-year courses. Woohoo! The first year’s courses are now done! Celebrate.
July: Start the first 7 courses for our second-year students.
August: Finish the first 7 second-year courses.
September: Start and finish the last 7 courses for our second-year students. (We can do this quickly here because several classes are internships, directed studies, and individual study which don’t need as much work.)
And Done: Super Woohoo! All the courses are designed and ready! Celebrate more!
We’ll share major Center Centre course creation updates through Kickstarter. To follow our progress and research more closely, join the quest at the Unicorn Institute. Find information about Center Centre on the school’s website.
Risks and challenges
➊ We’re doing something that’s never been done before. At least, not quite like this.
Sure, it’s a bit scary to create a new educational program, but mostly it’s exciting. We’ve centered our approach to crafting course content in solid research and years of practice. Leslie earned her doctorate in Learning and Leadership, and Jared is a leader in the user experience field. Leslie and Jared are unicorns with decades of experience in both education and industry.
➋ It’s a lot of work and, yep, we have an aggressive timeline.
Crafting course content for 30 courses is ambitious, but we’re up for the challenge. Our goal is to have the course content fully developed by Fall 2014. This timeframe might seem aggressive; however, it allows us to create and sustain the momentum needed to craft exceptional courses.
With our powers combined, we have the right skills to craft courses that meet the needs of both students and companies.
➌ It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
The quest to form a school is long and challenging. It’s no easy feat to get state authorization to be a school—especially when that school is vastly different from traditional approaches to education. Jared and Leslie spent 2 years researching what the ideal UX design education should be. Designing a school from the ground-up is hard but it will be worth it.
Last May we submitted our application to be an authorized school. On January 30, 2014, the Board of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission of the State of Tennessee unanimously approved Center Centre as a post-secondary, diploma-granting school.
We believe our efforts will be worth all the sub-quests, side-quests, and fetch-quests because Center Centre is the way we can move our industry forward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes. Center Centre is authorized for operation as a postsecondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. In order to view detailed job placement and graduation information on the programs offered by Center Centre, please visit www.tn.gov/thec/ and click on the Authorized Institutions Data button.
Yes. Graduates earn a diploma in User Experience Design and Technology.
Center Centre is a project-based school in a project-based city. We looked at several cities and the people of Chattanooga made us feel the most welcome, offering us and our students the best opportunities. We love what this city is doing and can’t wait to be an integral part of the community. In this video, Leslie answers: Why Chattanooga? (http://youtu.be/6QfwqV84XzE)
Our focus for this Kickstarter campaign is to develop in-person courses. Although we’re starting with in-person classes, online education is something we’re interested in pursuing. Follow our adventures at the Unicorn Institute (http://unicorninstitute.com).
Nate Croft (http://fortysevenmedia.com/) spent two days with us in Chattanooga filming our video and countless hours editing the main project video and the blooper reel.
UIE’s Sean Carmichael edited the videos where we answered questions about Center Centre. He also made the videos accessible to more people by adding closed captioning.
Yes, we’re glad you asked. We couldn’t have made it through the processes of State authorization and the Kickstarter campaign without the help of our Unicorn Institute Team. A big thanks to our full-time unicorns: Summer Kohlhorst for designing all of the amazing graphics and Keith McCallie for writing, editing, and pouring through thousands of pages of copy. Thank you Dawn Pfeiffer and Mandy Mowers for helping keep our content on track.
This adventure was made possible by the entire UIE team. Thank you to Sean Carmichael, Brian Christensen, Adam Churchill, Lauren Cramer, Donna Fowler, Li Li, and Sean Quinn.
A huge thanks from Leslie, Jared, and the Unicorn Institute Team to our spouses, family, and friends for supporting us through this crazy adventure. All of you are amazing.
And thanks to all of our backers. You will forever hold a magical place in our hearts.
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