Photo caption: Deb Morris, manager of user experience at Jamf, has a bachelor's degree in computer science and a master's in organizational leadership. She has spent 25 years in the tech industry, the last three with Jamf, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graphic design students are benefiting from a closer working relationship between the university program and Jamf, a global Apple enterprise management and security firm founded by Blugold alumnus Zach Halmstad.
A graphic design class on May 5 heard a presentation about the evolution of design from a special guest, Deb Morris, manager of user experience design (UX design) at Jamf. Morris was invited to speak to students in ART 375: Web Development and Digital Product Design, taught this semester by Steve Korinek, associate lecturer of art & design.
“Our graphic design program is undergoing a pedagogical shift in how we teach website design,” Korinek says. “We are working to better align our courses with how digital product and user experience (UX) design is currently practiced in the tech industry.”
Korinek says that after meeting with Morris to discuss the shift, the two saw the benefit of building a closer relationship between Jamf and the art & design program at UW-Eau Claire.
“Deb graciously offered to come and talk with our students, share her perspectives about where digital product and UX design is headed and answer their questions about this lucrative design career,” Korinek says. “Jamf, like so many tech companies, is always looking for talented UX design interns, and we look forward to helping them meet this need.”
During her presentation, Morris compared UX design to the omnipresent human experience of not being able to tell if a door to a public building requires a “push” or a “pull,” and the ensuing frustration at a failed attempt.
“Poor design makes it hard for me to even open the door to a product and use it,” she says.
Over her 25-year career in product design, Morris has seen her job titles change from names like "usability analyst” and “human factors engineer” to the current terminology of user experience design, or UX.
“The crux of UX, from research to the design phase, is to know your users and advocate for them,” Morris says. “Our job is to create a seamless process through all the touchpoints of a customer’s experience interacting with our product.”
“Accessibility is central to this goal — accounting for and adapting to all factors that might impact any person’s ability to use a product or service,” she says, pointing to factors like vision, mobility, hearing loss and many others.
As Korinek pointed out, UW-Eau Claire’s art & design department and Jamf are exploring ways to establish a formal internship arrangement where Blugold design students would gain cutting-edge tech and design skills as well as broad workplace knowledge with a global industry leader.
Although it would take much more thought to develop specific internship roles at a company the size of Jamf (with over 60,000 corporate accounts), Morris says she has a list of potential duties in mind.
Currently, Morris foresees the scope of work for interns to include the following:
- Understanding the user persona and learning about specific user needs identified by research.
- Conducting design discovery, including heuristic analysis and competitive design research.
- Creating workflows and/or journey maps for a product feature.
- Creating a low-fidelity wireframe for one project/feature.
- Creating a high-fidelity wireframe using components from a design system.
- Participating in team workshops.
- Ideally, create a presentation at the end of the internship that highlights artifacts created, skills learned and knowledge gained.
“The actual activities will depend on the project, which is a learning opportunity — we would right-size the effort based on the project and its goals,” Morris says.
One previous Blugold hired by Morris as a UX/design intern at Jamf was 2021 graphic communications graduate Andrew Westgard. Morris says that Westgard is now joining the Jamf team of professionals as an editorial designer on the UX design team, a role that Morris explains.
"Editorial designers are chartered with crafting beautiful and engaging experiences for our customers," Morris says. "That’s slightly different than a marketing design role that works on public-facing websites. It’s a bit nuanced — the easiest way to explain the difference is via persona. Websites focus on buyer (and investor) personas, while editorial design within user experience is based on user personas for our products."
Excited to be back with the industry leader that supported his student growth, Westgard hopes to see more students given that opportunity to intern at Jamf.
“What really impressed me about my internship and Jamf was the people,” Westgard says. “It can be hard to find organizations willing to give junior designers a chance, but at Jamf I was given many opportunities to show my ability and skills. Everyone on the UX team was willing to meet with me and give me advice on how I could break into UX.
“Now as a full-time visual designer with the company, I am excited to help create an official internship program that can give other aspiring UX designers the opportunities I had.”
Korinek shares Westgard’s enthusiasm and is grateful for the ongoing collaboration from all parties working to offer formative internships to Blugold design students.
“We’re grateful that Deb Morris came to share her knowledge and experience,” Korinek says. “Students remarked that her presentation helped them better understand UX design while answering specific questions about how they might enter the career, the ways Jamf grows its talent and how UX designers are compensated after graduation.
“Our program truly enjoyed the opportunity to partner with Jamf in the classroom and looks forward to potential UWEC student UX design internships in the future.”