What is it like to work in UX and how did you get there?

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#1

Hello UX Mastery,

My name is Allison and I am a student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada. I am writing a paper on User Experience Design. I am currently in a program that will hopefully give me the stepping stones to become a UX designer and I had I few questions to ask you about what UX is like as a profession.

  1. How did you personally get involved in User Experience Design?
  2. How long have you been a UX designer?
  3. Where did you attend school?
  4. In your opinion, what is your favourite part of your job?
  5. Who is someone you admire in the UX field?
  6. How do you balance the goal of the end user with those of the business?
  7. Have there been rough moments in your career path to get to where you are now?
  8. If you could improve UX on any site which would it be and why?
  9. What’s the work environment like as a UX designer?

Sincerely,
Allison Brown


#2

Hi Allison,
Its interesting that you’re writing a paper on the subject.

Here are my responses to the questions:

How did you personally get involved in User Experience Design?
At a previous job as an application developer, I was left to come up with a product and develop it. Googling on how to do things got me started on the path of UX.

How long have you been a UX designer?
I’ve been a UX Designer for about 3 years.

Where did you attend school?
I currently go to Indiana University for MS in HCI.

In your opinion, what is your favourite part of your job?
My favorite part is brainstorming and design (the stuff that is after user research).

Who is someone you admire in the UX field?
There are many people. Don Norman, Jacob Nielsen, and lots of folks who I discovered through Medium.

How do you balance the goal of the end user with those of the business?
For me, there is no specific answer other than it depends. One thing that is common is to have a thorough understanding of user needs and business goals.

Have there been rough moments in your career path to get to where you are now?
Yes, its always challenging to break into an industry. It is still rough as a beginner. Coming across as someone worthy of call is still quite challenging.

If you could improve UX on any site which would it be and why?
Job application websites like Taleo (they’re absolutely terrible), Indian govt websites, many university websites where information is quite hard to find.

What’s the work environment like as a UX designer?
From working with a few clients, I feel that not everyone is as aware of UX as we’d like. So there is a lot of communicating of why your work and ideas are relevant. Of course, this is changing very fast.

I hope you found my responses useful.


#3

My full story is available here.
But short version is… when I left uni I was given an opportunity to work in a software development company as a UI designer, after 4 years I moved to a new company where I started to progress from UI to UX. I now work in a product design team with a Product Owner, 3 BAs, myself (Senior UI Designer) and a Junior UI designer. We work very much as a UX team.

I’m still progressing to full UX status, but I have been gradually moving this way for the past 18 months, although I worked in related area (UI design) for almost 6 years.

I attended BCU (Birmingham City University) in England, studying a BA in Visual Communication: Graphic Design

I love the continuous learning, and also solving problems. The product I am working on at the moment I know a number of people that use it, so seeing what difference I am making is great too.

I don’t think there is one stand out person who I admire most, I follow a number of people and try to learn from them as much as possible - there are a number of them in this community, a few to name would be Sarah Doody, Jakob Neilsen, Don Norman, and Luke Wroblewski.

This is mainly done by our Product owner, she attends priorisation meetings, where the business needs, development cost, and benefit are discussed.

Yes! There are always times when you doubt your ability (imposter syndrome is rough). But also, sometimes you find yourself having to fight the stigma that it’s easy and anyone can do it!

Good question! Amazon, is one of those websites I love to hate! I find it so easy to spend money, but it’s not the most user friendly, espeically the prime video side of things.

I think this can really vary from company to company. My first company was a very quiet office, no talking allowed! Now I’m in a team, it’s much more relaxed and friendly.


#4

Hello Allison! It’s great to meet you, and awesome that you’re looking at a career in UX. We have a lot of great people on these forums, and I hope you’ll come back for more once you’re done with this particular project.

I’m happy to help with your project-- here are my responses.

How did you personally get involved in User Experience Design?

My previous job was designing interactive digital signs, which is heavily steeped in UX Design. Though I was a jack-of-all-trades there (I did design, development, deployment, training, team management, and project management), I worked on literally hundreds of projects for world-class companies and organizations. This gave me the opportunity to look several different ways when thinking about a new gig, and I decided to turn to a career in UX as it seemed the most appealing.

How long have you been a UX designer?

I just celebrated my 1-year anniversary with my current employer, though I’ve been doing jobs that required significant UX work for the past 8 years.

Where did you attend school?

I attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science.

In your opinion, what is your favourite part of your job?

I love to learn, so getting to work on problems I didn’t even know existed is always a lot of fun. In my current role I’m working on a system that supports registered investment advisors, and the world of the stock market was one I knew little about before I came in. I’m certainly no expert, but this gig has opened up a world of challenges to me that I couldn’t even begin to fathom when I came here. It’s been a tremendous learning experience.

Who is someone you admire in the UX field?

Apart from @HAWK for her tireless efforts on keeping this forum well-moderated, I really appreciate the contributions Daniel Burka and our very own @joenatoli have made to the industry. Daniel explains design in a way that’s intuitive and sensible, while Joe works hard to share his years of experience with the community at large. Both have contributed to my own success in very different ways, but I couldn’t thank either enough for what they’re doing for the industry as a whole.

How do you balance the goal of the end user with those of the business?

I base my thoughts and arguments on hard data whenever possible. As a UX Engineer I’m well-placed to influence business decisions, and if I can find data to either support or refute a particular hypothesis I will certainly do so.

Have there been rough moments in your career path to get to where you are now?

Absolutely. You can read the full story here if you’re interested. The TL;DR version is that I went to school for journalism, was unable to make it in that field and found myself homeless and working at a call center in 2009. I made a pitch to change our internal websites for the better, and was able to work my way up from call center phone jockey to Software Engineer. I eventually jumped ship for the digital signage gig, and then moved onto my current UX Engineer role.

The road to get here has not been easy, but I learned a lot in the process. It was absolutely worth it.

If you could improve UX on any site which would it be and why?

ESPN.com. I visit it enough that it annoys the ever-living daylights out of me. It’s a giant, unorganized mish-mash of information and stories that make it impossible to find anything other than the night’s current big headline. It’s a shame because they have a ton to offer in terms of information and depth of coverage, but it all gets lost in the shuffle.

What’s the work environment like as a UX designer?

For me, it’s pretty great. I work in a decently-sized cube in a nice office on the quiet side of town. My coworkers are all respectful and smart people who are working to make a good product great. I have a lot of leeway on hours and work-from-home days. All that the team is concerned with is that I get my work done well and on-time.


Hope that all helps! Let me know if I can do anything else for you.


#5

@dougcollins, I am absolutely honored by the kind words here. Means the world to know that what I’m doing is helping people. It never feels like enough, but I do my best. Thank you once again.


#6

No worries at all, my friend. I’ve taken some of your courses and find myself stumbling into quiet a bit you’ve either been involved with or written about. I can’t thank you enough for help.

I used to be a journalist, and more often than not, things I wrote would go out into the ether and I’d never hear about them again. It was a bit like screaming into a dark, silent theater. You know people are there, you know you’re being heard, but you’re not getting any sort of response. Silence is, perhaps, the most harrowing and disheartening feedback there is.

I specifically think of one article in particular I wrote an article once about a football player’s rise to the NFL, and the adversity he faced going through it. I published it, and (as was customary) never heard a word about it until talking to that player years later. He bought hundreds of copies of the magazine to give to his friends and family to say “thank you” for helping him along in his journey, and he told me he still has a matted and framed copy hanging in his office at home.

You’ve done a lot to help me on my path, and there’s no possible way you haven’t impacted thousands of others. We’re all thankful for all you’ve done, and I look forward to learning even more from your years of experience in the future.


#7

How did you personally get involved in User Experience Design?
I worked as a technical writer at a software company. I was writing documentation to help users get around badly designed parts of the software. I thought, why don’t we just make the software better? That piqued my interest in UX.

How long have you been a UX designer?
I’m not, I’m actually a content strategist. :slight_smile:

Where did you attend school?
I got my bachelor’s in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I got my Master’s in English at the University of Virginia.

In your opinion, what is your favourite part of your job?
Ahh so many things! I really like creating usable content for software, because I know it will make the user’s experience better. I also love helping clients figure out how to improve their content workflow (who will create content, what the approval process will be, etc).

Who is someone you admire in the UX field?
Kristina Halvorson is the top person to look at for content strategy. Also Ann Rockley.

How do you balance the goal of the end user with those of the business?
This is a great question. I look for those goals and interests that are shared. Most of the time, if the user is helped, the business will naturally benefit.

Have there been rough moments in your career path to get to where you are now?
Definitely. Most companies do not value UX as much as I would like them to. That makes it frustrating when you’re trying to advocate for the user and the organization’s leaders are not interested.

Digital properties like websites are also subject to “land grabs” in some companies. People would fight over who has authority over them, because roles are not clearly defined. That’s very toxic and difficult to navigate.

If you could improve UX on any site which would it be and why?
Well the company that has my car loan is Tower Federal Credit Union and their site is absolutely awful.

What’s the work environment like as a UX designer?
It varies so much based on where you work. If you work in a developer-centered culture, you will have to fight for UX, and that can be stressful. Right now I’m privileged to work at a more UX-focused agency where everyone–developers, QA, project managers–collaborates to provide a good experience to the user. It’s fantastic.


#8

I’m UX Designer who specializes in voice interfaces. I tell people I give machines personality.

  • How did you personally get involved in User Experience Design?
    I was student studying psychology and Human Factors.

  • How long have you been a UX designer?
    Overall 4 years but in the voice ux world, just 2.

  • Where did you attend school?
    University of Central Florida in Orlando

  • In your opinion, what is your favourite part of your job?
    I’m a UX Consultant so I get to work with some of the largest brands and smart people.

  • Who is someone you admire in the UX field?
    Don Norman - the rest of the guys you probably don’t know.

  • How do you balance the goal of the end user with those of the business?
    Well we collect the business requirements @ first to understand the objectives - are they trying to save money? Improving brand image using voice? From the point of view of the end user, there are many appealing advantages of using speech systems compared with other access mode.

The job of the designer is to meet the needs of the business and its users simultaneously. “How” depends on “What” they’re trying to do.

  • Have there been rough moments in your career path to get to where you are now?
    Getting in UX wasn’t easy; took me a year of freelance.

  • If you could improve UX on any site which would it be and why?
    I don’t do sites. I like to improve Google Home and Alexa :slight_smile:

  • What’s the work environment like as a UX designer?
    I work with a distributed team around the world and travel as a Consultant for discovery - onsite client visits.