Sometimes I can’t quite believe I landed in this crazy world of making digital experiences.
At university, I was working towards a BSc in Psychology and had no idea what I was going to do with it. This lack of direction led me to deciding to just postpone the decision further by doing a MSc in Organisational Psychology.
One of the modules was intriguingly titled Human/Computer Interaction and I still remember coming out of that first lecture and thinking, “This is it! I’m home!”
I had always been incredibly interested in people – how they think, how they feel, why they do the things they do – but I also had a parallel interest in design. So much so, that in the first year of my undergraduate psychology degree, I had seriously considered packing it in for graphic design.
So, as I learnt more about the theories of HCI, and explored further into the field, I found out about these mythical creatures called User Experience Designers, who, to me, seemed to have the most perfect job in the world – something that I never knew existed, people who worked with psychology and graphic design, my two loves.
From that point on, I made it my mission to become a User Experience Designer. While I’ll leave the finer details of that journey for another post, a decade later, I’ve lately been reminiscing about why I love my job:
I get to work with lots of different disciplines
Digital design is something that cannot be achieved on your own. To build anything, you will need to work closely with any combination of designers, front-end developers, back-end developers, copywriters, product managers, project managers, Quality Assurance, Business Intelligence, creative leads, strategists, business stakeholders and so on.
Having an understanding and appreciation of all these different disciplines is crucial to aid your day to day collaboration with the rest of your team. I cannot do my job effectively without knowing about how other people do theirs. So each day in my job means that my proficiency in areas like copywriting, front-end coding, branding and basic back-end dev principles skyrockets.
This daily interaction and learning from other people has made my job really pleasurable. I love learning new things that improve my work, and I love getting other disciplines to see through my eyes too. It is also a really amazing feeling to work collaboratively on a project, and watch it grow through your combined effort. Seeing something being built that is so much greater than the sum of its parts is amazing, and one of the reasons this job is so rewarding.
I get to talk to loads of different types of people about their lives
One of my favourite things to do on a project is the stage where I get to talk to people about their world. I’ll research into a problem or issue, like “It can be really difficult to plan a night out with your friends” – I then can go off and find out from real humans whether this affects them, how they feel about it, their needs around it, and how they deal with it currently. Getting insights into people’s lives, thoughts and motivations is always fascinating, useful and, well, insightful!
Other times, I get to watch people actually use something I’ve designed. I’m able to see how people actually use the web and technology and bear witness to the myriads of different ways that this happens.
I love getting this peek into people’s minds, digging a little and coming back with nuggets of information about what makes them tick and what makes them click! You find out a ton about all types of people.
I get to use lots of different tools and processes
On any given day, I can reach into my ‘toolkit’ and use something completely different to the day before.
We don’t follow the same exact steps day in day out. We are always experimenting with new stuff (this year its been diving deep into Sketch and Design Sprint methodology for me) and picking the right tool or process or deliverable for the job.
Recently, I created a completely made up storyboard/user journey hybrid full of (terrible!) hand-drawn stick figures to illustrate a customer experience. Can you imagine a lawyer creating a whole new type of legal document on the fly and just running with it? (Actually, this totally might happen, I have no idea about law, but you get the gist – we are really lucky that there are very few tool/process absolutes in our world that is just not true with so many other careers).
i get to work at the forefront of tech
I create digital experiences, so a big part of my job is staying up to date with the latest goings on in technology. I love that it is absolutely legitimate research to download apps to play with them and see how they work, to experiment with frankly magical tech like VR, and to help push the envelope ourselves through the products and experiences that we create.
Most of all, I love being educated about the possibilities of where tech can take us and what we could be able to create in the near future. Its an amazing world and I am privileged to be a part of it.
Creativity and innovation are encouraged, expected
Working in a creative job means that it is expected that we think ‘outside the box’ and not necessarily conform.
From our working spaces and processes, to our products and solutions, questioning the rules is a must-have trait. To design is to ask questions about everything and being able to work in an environment where everything is questioned, tested, re-evaluated and improved, often in ways that people had never imagined, is really thrilling.
I get to be part of a great community
The amount of support, advice and opinions that are accessible to designers is amazing.
As a general rule, us designers are so welcoming and always interested to talk shop, compare notes and share their knowledge. Every single day I see the amazing selflessness of designers sharing articles, resources, insights on Twitter, see the positivity of comments on Instagram, read genuinely helpful articles on design blogs all over.
Our design community is not without its faults and doesn’t always get it right, but our heart is in the right place and I’m so grateful for it.
I’m making a difference
Finally, I love my job because I am getting up to go to work on improving people’s lives through technology, rather than going to work to put ‘business’ first.
My job is to focus on people and making their experience of a product or service the best it can be. The idea of making an impact on someone’s life in a tangible way is incredibly rewarding. If that is not motivation, I don’t know what is.