Lim Qi Xuan, a skilled User Experience Designer at the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, believes that the essence of good design lies in creating the right solutions. Her expertise shines through her work on an innovative artificial intelligence-enabled adaptive learning system, which personalises learning experiences for students.
Design has become an integral part of our daily lives, impacting the products we purchase, the spaces we inhabit, and the information we consume.
To put it simply, design involves creating solutions to problems and the solutions can be in the form of a new product, an improved process, or a better user experience. More importantly, it has the transformative power to reshape businesses and revolutionise the way customers interact with products and services. That is why Lim Qi Xuan has chosen to forge a career as a User Experience (UX) Designer at the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) with the support of the DesignSingapore (Dsg) Scholarship.
The scholarship is offered by Dsg, the national agency for design that aims to develop the design sector, help Singapore use design for innovation and growth, and make life better by design. As design continues to shape the world, Singapore recognises the need for a workforce empowered by design, to unleash the power of design to drive growth and economic success.
From Passion to Profession
Qi Xuan’s passion for design ignited early in products and services. her life, leading her to venture into the creative industry where she gained experience in branding, advertising and editorial work.
“As much as I loved the work, a part of me always wondered if my designs can be more purposeful and better connect with the people who need them,” she mused.
That led her to search for ways to further hone her design skills. She came across the Dsg Scholarship, which is intended for students and industry professionals passionate about design to develop or further their design career through education.
With the support of the scholarship, Qi Xuan enrolled at the Design Academy Eindhoven, an interdisciplinary educational institute for art, architecture and design in the Netherlands that is widely-recognised as one of the world’s leading design schools. She pursued a Master of Arts in Information Design there.
“I have always been fascinated by the relationships between publishers and consumers of information and how we shape information to make people think and feel in a certain way. Everything was rapidly digitising as well, and to me, studying how that impacts society would be meaningful and make me a more thoughtful designer,” she shared.
Qi Xuan is glad to have taken up the scholarship to study abroad, as it proved to be an eye-opening experience, broadening her horizons and unveiling new perspectives. One of her most cherished lessons at university was learning that good design entails knowing how things are built and recognising the importance of the process alongside the final outcome.
“A coursemate of mine was presenting her beautiful kinetic sculpture – a silk cloth swaying to programmed data above a white box that hid all its wiring. The first thing my tutors said was ‘Don’t hide the wires, show me how it works.’ They found the wires – exposed and tangled in a heap on the ground – more beautiful because it reveals how something is built!” she recounted.
Unleashing the Power of Design
Besides the financial support, Qi Xuan is grateful for the care that Dsg had shown her over the course of her studies by checking in on her regularly, and even connecting her to potential hirers before she graduated.
As a UX Designer at GovTech currently, Qi Xuan is part of the Experience Strategy and Design team which drives the strategic and initial phases of product development. She emphasises the importance of understanding the underlying purpose and methodology behind building products.
“I look for the why and how things should be built before they are actually built,” she highlighted.
To ensure that her product design meets the user requirements, Qi Xuan shares that it is important to conduct user research, create scrappy contents and test with users to learn and refine.
“A lot of designers do not give themselves enough time to synthesise their findings during user research and this may lead them down the wrong path in their designs,” she explained, “It’s important for designers to allocate sufficient time to synthesise their research findings. Rushing this process can lead to misguided design decisions.”
Qi Xuan’s current focus lies in designing innovative solutions for an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled Adaptive Learning System (ALS), a platform that enables students to learn at their own pace by leveraging machine learning to personalise learning experiences based on how each student responds to learning materials and activities.
“Designing for AI is exciting for any designer! The move towards AI-enabled products and services is an inevitable phenomenon. With ALS, the learning experience can now be personalised for students according to their learning states, strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
As a UX Designer, Qi Xuan collaborates closely with her lead researcher to build prototypes and proof-of-concepts that communicate ideas, challenges, or decision-points.
“My role is not only to take care of how things look, feel and work, but to also understand how we can use design strategically to shape behaviours in our users,” she elaborated.
The ALS project has also sparked Qi Xuan’s interest in the teaching and learning environment.
“Teaching and learning are extremely high-touch, and it is not something that any learning system should seek to replace. Rather, learning systems can be designed as tools to enrich the teaching and learning experience,” she added.
In fact, her enthusiasm for teaching and learning does not stop there. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer with NTU and NUS and enjoys guiding her students through the phases of discovery, defining, developing and delivering, and seeing how they grow in the process.
Qi Xuan’s advice to aspiring students interested in pursuing a Dsg Scholarship can be summarised by these impactful words: “Make it bigger than yourself. Don’t merely consider how the scholarship can benefit you, but rather, contemplate how you can give back to Singapore.”
This article was first published in BrightSparks July 2023 magazine. Reproduced with permission from Kariera Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
DesignSingapore Scholarship 2023 Application is Open!
Take that step to apply for the Dsg Scholarship to pursue your passion in design.