Tag Archives: UX Research

Job: UX Researcher Trainee in London

We’re hiring a UX Researcher Trainee to join our London team.

This UX Researcher Trainee position offers an excellent opportunities for career progression and growth. The trainee role will last approximately 3 to 6 months and will function like an apprenticeship – where you learn the rules of the trade and assist senior researchers with projects.

As a successful UX Researcher Trainee your next step is Junior Researcher, where you will:
– Lead research projects and support team members on other projects
– Meet and liaise with clients to negotiate and agree research projects
– Assist in formulating a plan/proposal and presenting it to the client or senior managementWriting and managing the distribution of surveys and questionnaires
– Assist the senior management on various tasks.
– Manage data and input data into databases.

As a UX Researcher Trainee, you will be:
– An enthusiastic, hard-working and diligent individual
– Have excellent verbal and written communication skills
– A business extrovert, comfortable dealing with individuals at all corporate levels, including board level.
– Be comfortable working in a high pressure, fast paced environment where multiple projects and competing demands are the norm.
– A team-player, detail-oriented and quick learner.
– Any experience in the Tech, Marketing or Multimedia industry would be an added bonus.

Recent graduates are welcome, but must demonstrate relevant course work (e.g., thesis work), also those with more experience who are attempting a career change.

Psychology and social science degree holders strongly encouraged to apply – Research Methods in particular. More technical or design experience is also welcome, but please mention your interest in research and skills for research field work.

Salary is 60 per day and the duration of training is for a 3 to 6 month period.
Weekly schedule may vary from 30 to 40 hours per week.

Send CVs with introduction letter to info@adhocglobal.com

Ad Hoc London Team

Ad Hoc London explores audience needs in the UK. We routinely conduct UX and usability research in London, Southampton, Manchester, and Glasgow. We optimise information for laptops, tablets and smartphones so customers have the best possible user experience. We help clients benefit from understanding their audiences’ varying needs.

Geeky Girl Reality, 2016, 2nd Series

Geeky Girl Reality is a longitudinal independent study created in response to the surprising lack of women represented in STEM careers. It aims to give voices to women interested in STEM and allows us to construct meaning and data surrounding their experiences as womenGeekGirl

The Continuation of this blog series reflects our findings from our Spring 2016 survey of 163 women between the ages of 15-46 who represent 16 countries from around the world. (please see our previous blog for our findings on the impact of early childhood interests and how they affect the pursuit of STEM careers later on in life).

 

Here we take a look at how higher education affects a woman’s interest and confidence in STEM.

Confidence and 10 Year Plan

Our data indicates that career paths and confidence are significantly influenced during college. As stated by one participant, “Gender stereotypes are still associated with classes and discourage students from exploring their interests.”

This trend can be seen from the bar graph below, which compares our survey participants’ year of study to their 10-year plans and confidence levels in getting a job.

[GGR] Blog Post #2 - Visual #1

 

On the horizontal axis, each year of study is listed along with a bar representing the corresponding 10-year plan responses. The pink bars are the percentages of women planning to pursue a STEM career; the green bars are the percentages of women planning to pursue a non-STEM career, or indicating no career plan. The overlapping blue line represents our participants’ confidence levels from year to year.

Respondents in their first year of college had high levels of confidence averaging at 4.1 out of 5, and 63% of them had a 10-year plan involving a STEM career. However, this percentage dropped to only 37% for those in their second year of college. This year also correlated to a drop in confidence to levels of 3.6.

Confidence levels steadily rose for women in their later years of college, averaging as high as 4.2 in year 5. Meanwhile, women planning to pursue STEM rose in the third year to its highest point at 67%, and then fluctuated for years 4 and 5 between 50% and 63%.

Although the upward trend for both variables in the third year seems positive, it could indicate that the proportion of women who lose confidence in their second year choose to leave STEM fields, resulting in an inflation of these values the following year. What causes the drop in the second year isn’t clear. However, this negative trend may be caused by social stigma, lack of support, encouragement and female mentors for women at College. One participant stated “males in engineering are treated with more respect than females. A girl has to speak twice as loud and work twice as hard just to be recognised on a ‘level playing field’.” These double standards in learning experiences could alienate women making them question their abilities.

Could the hiring of more women faculty members help combat this fall in confidence? Results from our previous series suggest this may be the case, with unrelated female mentors increasing the likelihood of women pursuing STEM careers. Interestingly a recent article found women now have a better chance than men at being hired as professors, which may indicate cultures are changing slowly amongst HE institutions.  

Subject Studied

Class standings also indicated a relationship with our participants’ areas of study. To demonstrate this, we used the line graph below to compare the subjects studied by our participants to their year of study.blog2

On the horizontal axis, each year of study is listed chronologically from 1 to 5. Each subject is represented by a differently colored line that shows the percentages of students studying the subject. The variations in the lines indicate how these percentages change from year to year.

 

46% of our freshman (year 1) participants studied computer science (CS), making it the most studied subject for that year. As the class standing increased, however, the number of participants studying CS steadily decreased to the point where only 18% of women studied it in year 5.

The life sciences (bio, physical, human, and health) showed the opposite trend. Human and health sciences were studied by only 6% of freshman students, but were one of the top subjects for year 5 students at 24%. Similarly, biosciences and physical sciences were studied by 23% of freshman students, but increased significantly for year 5 students, where they were the most studied subjects at 35%.

It appears that women in STEM start out college with a higherinterest in technology fields, but as the years go by, they are more likely to leave college pursuing a life science. Additionally, CS courses could be the cause for the loss of confidence discussed earlier, since the number of CS students begin to decrease in the same year that our participants had a drop in confidence.

These results could also indicate that CS is grounded within a ‘deeper’ male orientated culture compared to the other STEM subjects where women find it more difficult to ‘identify’ and ‘find a place’. One CS participant stated “Women face harsher penalties for their mistakes, from both themselves and their peers.” suggesting women feel at battle internally and externally with the social stigma surrounding their role within the subject. These pressures could provide one explanation as to why more women leave CS.  

Encouraging more women to continue studying STEM

There are a number of steps we can take to improve the retention rate of women in science and tech:

 

  1. Establish college programs geared towards freshmen and sophomores in STEM that provide a safe place for them to share their struggles and get advice.

 

  1. Appoint more women as faculty members in STEM to empower female students and limit their feelings of uncertainty.

 

  1. Increase college preparation opportunities in high schools, so students can be more confident and prepared in handling difficult college courses.

 

  1. Encourage the women you know to become mentors for other women who are just starting out in their college education. If you’re a woman in science or tech, consider becoming a mentor yourself.

 

We can change the future if we work together.

This has been the second in a series of exploration into the experiences of women in science, technology, engineering, or maths. Keep an eye out for more posts as we look at other influences affecting women’s careers.

Contributors

Andrea Lewis, Raiya Al-Ansari, Molly Goodman

References:

Cruz, E. (2016, July 27). The Gap Between Women and Men in STEM and What You Can Do About It [Web log post].

Ad Hoc London Team

Ad Hoc London explores audience needs in the UK. We routinely conduct UX and usability research in London, Southampton, Manchester, and Glasgow. We optimise information for laptops, tablets and smartphones so customers have the best possible user experience. We help clients benefit from understanding their audiences’ varying needs.

Geeky Girl Reality, 2016

There are still comparatively few women working in science and technology. Recent studies show that only 23% of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals are women, and 27% of these are likely to leave their job within the first year.

So, why aren’t more women entering and remaining in science and technology? What’s causing this gender gap?

Geeky Girl Reality is a longitudinal, independent research project looking at how women’s experiences influence GeekGirltheir interests in science and technology.

We’re drawing on data from a spring 2016 survey of 163 women between the ages of 15-46 from 16 countries around the world.

From their stories, we learn about the effects women’s experiences have on their pursuit of higher education in science, technology, engineering, and maths. We have discovered some interesting insights.

Having a plan

To start, we’ll take a look at our participants’ early life experiences and how their plans are affected by their childhood interests or mentors.

Our data indicates that career paths are influenced very early on by childhood interests. One participant said that, “One of the main reasons why I am so involved in math and CS [Computer Science] now is because I was exposed to both subjects at a very young age.”

This trend can be seen from the bar graph below, which compares our survey participants’ childhood interests to their 10-year plans.

ggr-blog-post-1-visual-1

On the horizontal axis, each childhood interest is listed along with a bar representing the corresponding 10-year plan responses. The pink bars are the percentages of women planning to pursue a STEM career; the green bars are the percentages of women planning to pursue a non-STEM career, or there was no indication of a career plan.

Those who had technology or science-based childhood interests were more likely to plan for a science or tech career

 

 

At least 52% of respondents with an interest in technology or science as a child had a 10-year plan involving a STEM career. This rose to 76% for those with an affinity for tech.

The 33% of young women who lacked exposure to science or technology said they were more likely to go into other areas instead.

Having a mentor

Childhood interests were not the only early life factors affecting their career choices. Mentors also played an important role in their plans for the future. According to one of our participants, “[My mentor] has taught me a lot about being a woman out in the real world and has helped me choose what I want to do.”

We can see this by comparing their mentors (on the horizontal axis) to their 10-year plans.

ggr-blog-post-1-visual-2

More than half of women with no mentor or with an unrelated male mentor did not plan to pursue a STEM career. By contrast, women with an unrelated female mentor were the most likely to pursue STEM, with 68% of them indicating a STEM-related career plan.

It appears that women are most encouraged when they have another successful woman as an inspiration. It’s possible that male mentors are not as easy to relate to, and made them feel like they didn’t belong in the relevant fields.

Getting more women interested in STEM careers

There are a number of steps we can take to get more women in science and tech:

  1. Talk to young girls about science and tech to give them the opportunity to explore those subjects from a younger age.
  1. Encourage the women you know to become mentors for other women and girls who are just starting out on their career paths. If you’re a woman in science or tech, consider becoming a mentor yourself.
  1. Establish a mentorship program within your organization to empower female employees in science and tech.
  1. Implement more science and tech courses in early education to increase young girls’ exposure to these fields.

We can change the future if we work together.

This has just been the start of our exploration into the experiences of women in science, technology, engineering, or maths. Keep an eye out for more posts as we look at other influences affecting women’s careers.

Contributors

Andrea Lewis, Sabah Rahman, Raiya Al-Ansari

References:

Cruz, E. (2016, July 27). The Gap Between Women and Men in STEM and What You Can Do About It [Web log post].

Ad Hoc London Team

Ad Hoc London explores audience needs in the UK. We routinely conduct UX and usability research in London, Southampton, Manchester, and Glasgow. We optimise information for laptops, tablets and smartphones so customers have the best possible user experience. We help clients benefit from understanding their audiences’ varying needs.

My trial and error experience of UX

UX is often referenced as a buzzword. In a world where Digital strategy is on every lip, where can we fit UX? Is it the ultimate solution for IT departments? Can it make our products better, faster, stronger without being harder?

I came around UX about three years ago when I started working for Ad Hoc Global. Because of my dyslexia, I continually made reference to User Experiment rather than User Experience for UX (It would agitate my managing director). However, the more knowledge on UX I acquired, the easier it was for me to justify it.

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“We have to improve our customer experiences.” How many times have you heard this during a pitch?

Throughout  life, a human being has both good and bad experiences. One thing that triggers these experiences are experiments. A risky action that moves one individual from a comfort zone to the unknown. Once you get there, the unexplored land becomes your experience, a unique selling proposition for most of the companies. “We have to improve our customer experiences.” How many times have you heard this during a pitch? Iterations through carefully designed experiments give fine-tuned insights into creating experiences. It can be browsing through your latest application or reading signs while driving.“What if I experiment following a sat nav rather than planning my trip ahead? Will my experience become more positive?” UX will make your experiments a success and your experience powerful.    

Renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes that part of our brain makes quick decisions without using intense reflex efforts. Based on this, I see UX as a way to better utilize this part of the brain. To quote another successful writer, and another Daniel, D.H. Pink, we are in a caveat information situation where the user and the product have the same information at a precise instant. We perform actions knowing  what to expect. We are no longer lost with a product and prepared to make the next step in the unknown. Hence, users become the center of discussions. The focus shifts from what the technology allows us to do, to what we want to do in a particular situation. Features are optimised and through end eyes paths toward final goals are defined. The world becomes a two-way communication system with inputs from both sides.

In the end, heuristic reviews are performed, usability is improved, architectures become more intuitive, returns of investments maximise, strategies are in adequation with audiences, risks are managed. Your experiment is an achievement and experiences become memorable.
This is the power of UX.  

Paul Sauvage

Paul manages client requirements and needs. He is an experienced, senior project manager successfully leading digital and technical transformation projects in areas such as user experience, user centred design, robotic process automation (RPA), and general change management. Well-rounded professional, supporting programmes focused on operational change and strategic improvements, guiding organisations toward sustainability and efficiency.

An interview with Gene Moy

Gene Moy, Principal User Experience Designer
Gene Moy, Principal User Experience Designer

With over 15 years of experience designing products as diverse as military, medical, and consumer-facing systems, Gene is a Principal User Experience Designer. He transforms insights derived from observations of human behavior into strategies that inform critical user experiences with remarkable value.

Having earned an MA in American Studies and a BA in Rhetoric, Gene has worked with many high profile clients including Hallmark, Sears, Borders, Wilton, and Sallie Mae.

Gene uses his cross-disciplinary knowledge, to best find solutions that achieve a balance between stakeholder and user needs. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Gene a few questions and gather an insight into his work and life:

 

 

How did you first get involved/interested in UX?

GM: In brief, many of my generation fell into this work accidentally, and we were helped by good timing. I was no different. In the early ’90s, an opportunity created by technology to do something called “interactive multimedia” emerged. At UCLA, where I was a graduate student in Asian American Studies, history professor Jan Reiff was teaching a course in history and multimedia. Somehow I got a hold of some graphics software, and armed with a copy of David Siegel’s Creating Killer Web Sites, I started making graphics and writing HTML. In those days, there was no name for what we did back then, no schools, no gurus — all of it fell under the rubric “webmaster” or “webmistress”. As the web became more capable beyond mere brochureware, it was shown that efficacy, usefulness, and utility had effects on success metrics. Showing and selling things online progressively became less interesting to me than helping people accomplish tasks, goals, and minimizing their pain points. And that’s how I got into this work.

...each new group we work with, opens new opportunities to learn something about how people work, perceive, describe, and shape the world.
…each new group we work with, opens new opportunities to learn something about how people work, perceive, describe, and shape the world.

What aspect of UX do you enjoy the most and why?

GM: I’m fortunate enough to be able to participate at every part of the lifecycle. At Honeywell User Experience, our design thinking cycle looks like this: Understand, where we interview and observe users, analyze their utterances for insights, then synthesize them to produce solutions; Design, where we try to give form to those solutions and map them back to user jobs, goals, and pain points; and then Evaluate, where we see how well our design assumptions, now given form, have met those user needs. This isn’t very different from anyone else’s cycle, say, ISO 13407 or 9241. So each phase, and each new group we work with, opens new opportunities to learn something about how people work, perceive, describe, and shape the world. This is my life work now. I never tire of it.

In the past, you have worked with many high profile clients including Hallmark, Sears, Borders, and Wilton, to name a few. What projects did you most enjoy working on? Can you tell us about your favorite project and what was so unique or enjoyable about it?

GM: When I think back, common to all great consulting gigs were nice people in creative and sharing environments, with professional respect and behavior, in great places to work that weren’t oppressive. The work is always the same work, it doesn’t change, so it’s important that everything else in context goes well. Yet I feel the most important work we did was at Siemens and User Centric (now GfK UX), where people’s lives were involved, and now here at Honeywell, where we’re building a user experience practice.

...attention and memory are finite resources, so proper design should take care to conserve and extend them, but not to the point where you've created cognitively frictionless experiences...
…attention and memory are finite resources, so proper design should take care to conserve and extend them, but not to the point where you’ve created cognitively frictionless experiences…

We see from your previous work that you also have substantial experience in designing both military and medical products. Tell us, what are some of the major challenges working in these areas and how much do they differ from one and other? 

GM: The stakes are much higher. In e-commerce, generally, a catastrophic user experience doesn’t result in injury or death to the user or the lives that the user has in their care. And generally in these other domains operators are trying to do many things all at once — true of medical, transportation, finance, and military applications — a lot of integrative thinking going on, what Hutchins termed distributed cognition — so their resources are taxed fairly heavily, even with training. Thanks to Kahneman, Tversky, among others, we now know attention and memory are finite resources, so proper design should take care to conserve and extend them, but not to the point where you’ve created cognitively frictionless experiences, which has also led people into trouble.

Why do you think UX is so important for organizations to get right?

GM: Perhaps it is naive of me, but I believe at a certain level people consume products and services to become more of who they are or who they want to be. They are entering into a kind of relationship with your organization. When those products and services don’t help people accomplish those things, the entire reason why people have come to you, it damages that relationship. We’re surrounded by things and services that don’t work for people, that don’t help them achieve their goals, that create pain points for them. And broken promises over time will damage trust, authority, and ultimately the brand story that a company is aspiring to, or trying to tell about itself. User Experience may only be one part of that story but it’s an important part of how the story gets communicated.

A widely debated topic in UX is that all ‘good’ UX professionals should possess the ability to write and understand code. What are your thoughts on this topic?

GM: It’s alleged that when Gandhi was asked what he thought about western civilization, he is said to have answered, I think it would be a good idea. The code question sort of reminds me of that. Isn’t it interesting that people don’t say we should possess the ability to evaluate our models with users instead? Never mind that they focus only on software. This tells you that people in our industry still aren’t focused on users and their needs, only on software production. But our discipline is called user experience and not software engineering for a reason.

...people in our industry still aren't focused on users and their needs, only on software production.
…people in our industry still aren’t focused on users and their needs, only on software production.

Now that our discipline is mature, as a basic skill, like a prerequisite for any generalist, some fundamental production ability is necessary, just as much as evaluation. If you look at the origins of interaction design, what is common to all the pioneers is that they weren’t afraid to make things or get their hands dirty, and then as they evaluated their work with more people, they became more interested in things like user behavior. A good background in production taught me the importance of knowing what are the basic capabilities and properties of the material you’re going to be working with, whether its software, hardware, services, or support. Specialists will continue make things professionally, but as a competent professional you should be able to make a basic model by yourself to assist in evaluation whether it’s physical or digital or a service. But I think it is more important to understand the users’ intent and how well your model achieves that, and not per se in punching code.

What are your predictions about the future of UX, say 20 years from now?

GM: There will be more CUXOs, chief user experience officers, responsible for the UX strategy of the organization, under which all experience efforts of the organization will align. Outside of consumer retail, the buyers may not the ones who install, maintain, troubleshoot your products and services: those are users of your system as well, and their needs must be accounted for in the complete design of any value offering. So there has to be an expansion of user experience efforts beyond individual touchpoints to understand the whole end-to-end journey. And of course it’s my hope that as we do so people will think of UX no longer as bound exclusively to websites or apps, but products and services of all kinds, such as we’ve been directed to do at Honeywell User Experience, and eventually even government policies.

You were a contributor to the book, ‘Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism’. Tell us, what was your inspiration and thoughts behind publishing this book?

GM: Eastern Standard Time was a project launched by the staff of the now defunct A. Magazine, one of the foremost voices during the golden age of Asian American magazine publishing in the 90s. I only contributed, working under a fantastic editor, Terry Hong. I graduated from Illinois with a focus on nonfiction writing, and as a budding Asian Americanist, I was interested in locating how we were historically seen, heard, portrayed, and thought of in North American pop culture. The accessibility of the project really appealed to me. Perhaps that was the start of my career in user-centered design, in a sense.  

Ad Hoc London Team

Ad Hoc London explores audience needs in the UK. We routinely conduct UX and usability research in London, Southampton, Manchester, and Glasgow. We optimise information for laptops, tablets and smartphones so customers have the best possible user experience. We help clients benefit from understanding their audiences’ varying needs.

My Experience with Sitemaps

I was eager to explore building sitemaps after being introduced to their benefits while learning about the web design process. However, I had an unconventional first experience: I was asked to create a sitemap after the content and navigation were decided. While after-the-fact planning is bad practice (particularly for a UX consultancy website), it was a learning experience in my skills development as a Junior UX Researcher. Most challenging was the structuring of each page within the sitemap in a way that would be understandable to the user. Because the sitemap was based on an active website, I had to do some UX reverse engineering.

figure 1: My First Attempt

On my first attempt, I made the mistake of including all headings and subsections in the pages of the website. In retrospect, its smart to include only the headings that user interacts with. This resulted in an unclear and fairly cluttered sitemap that did not wholly represent the navigational complexity of the website.

It was after this initial setback that I made a mental breakthrough. In order for the sitemap to accurately portray the website, each page link needed to be displayed in a way that was understandable and intuitive for the user.

At first, this task seemed simple as the website did not have a lot of content. Nevertheless, creating an accurate pattern for the sitemap that precisely mapped each website page proved an obstacle. After some experimentation, I discovered that the website pages were all linked in a way that formed a circular navigation pattern.

figure 2: Final Sitemap

After this discovery, I displayed the pattern in an easy to use map. As seen in Figure 2, all of the pages in the navigation bar are linked both to the ‘Homepage’ and the international team pages. (The team pages are listed in a drop-down menu in the navigation bar). The ‘Teams’ page links to ‘Services’, which links back to ‘Contact Us. Finally, the ‘Insights’ page stands on its own with links to the various social media accounts below.

This task has shown me the utility of sitemaps for both designers and users. Sitemaps can be used to help  a user navigate, or allow a designer to structure a meaningful navigation process. In essence, sitemaps are hierarchical models that break down content into specific areas as well as show the relationship between internet and external pages. I now understand how the process of building a sitemap is a fundamental skill for UX practitioners.  

Gary Maccabe

Junior UX Researcher with a background in psychology and social media management. My interest in UX design stems from my time studying Cyberpsychology and human cognition as part of my BSc. (Hons) Psychology degree. Although it is still early in my career I have provided many large organisations with UX services and solutions. This experience has given me a solid understanding of what good UX design is and how to deliver it.

An Interview with Graham Lee

Graham Lee has over 12 years’ experience in content design, managing content for large web migration projects and writing copy for digital tools and transactions.

Having earned a BA in Philosophy and early success in his role as web content editor working for brands such as Pearson Group and the Ministry of Justice, he now provides his knowledge and expertise to Ad Hoc Global as a senior strategist.

Graham has been described by colleagues past and present as a highly skilled and diligent copy designer who cares deeply about the needs of the user.

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Graham a few questions and gather an insight into his work and life:

 

Graham_Lee
Graham Lee – Content designer

Why did you first become interested in UX/content design?Displaying content-designer-at-work.jpg

GL: I wrote blog posts and reviews in my spare time and stumbled into working on websites for a living. It was good to have an outsider’s point of view, as it meant I didn’t take a lot for granted. Official websites can look stuffy and use lots of long words that most people don’t use in real life. I remember thinking, ‘Who are they talking to here, and why are they using such odd terms?’

Was this always the career path you wanted to follow and did you expect to be working where you are now?

GL: Not at all! I always enjoyed writing but the web barely existed whenI left school. It would have been more realistic to dream of being an astronaut, as at least they were around back then.

Can you tell us a bit about your current role?

GL: I’m currently working for a public sector client, writing copy on using government services. It’s very rewarding, especially when you can take something that’s very complex and explain it in simple terms that everyone can understand.

content-designer-at-work
“We do lots of research with users to understand what they need from a service.”

How is user experience content design integrated into the workflow with your client?

GL: User experience and content design are factored in from the beginning. We do lots of research with users to understand what they need from a service. The content person then works closely with the designer and researcher to make sure the service is user-friendly.

In your opinion, what is the most important part of the content design process?

GL: Critical bit is making sure you write for the customer. There’s a lot of research involved in this: understanding who they are, what they need to do, how they’ll access a service and what problems they have going online. And then you have to tailor something bespoke for them. At the end of the day, the suit has to fit!

 

What specific research methods have you used and which is your most preferred method?

GL: I enjoy crunching the numbers on how people behave online, with things like web metrics or feedback data. But there’s nothing like meeting real users in person – for instance, sitting with them and seeing how they use a website. Even facial expressions can be revealing: preferably delighted ones when things test well. You really can’t get that from an email or emoticon. 🙂

content-designer-tools-of-the-trade (1)
Graham’s tools of the trade

What challenges do you encounter when carrying out research for content design?

GL: It’s hard to predict exactly what people will find confusing. You can make a very good guess, but there are always small things that they’ll trip up on which you hadn’t spotted beforehand. I don’t think this is a major problem, though. It just reinforces the need to make the content as clear as possible, and then test it.

What are your predictions about the future of UX and content design, say 20 years from now?

GL: UX and content design will be central. The web will be much more woven into everyday life, so the whole experience will have to be a lot more natural – like chatting to a friend, rather than typing a memo to your boss. This will mean that it’s more important than ever to use natural language and make sure what we design fits in with how people actually behave.

Finally, what do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your work?

GL: Apart from being a bookworm and film buff, I’m currently trying to learn how to play the piano. I’m not a natural: my wife says I sound like Les Dawson (who played all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order). I won’t be giving up the day job!

Ad Hoc London Team

Ad Hoc London explores audience needs in the UK. We routinely conduct UX and usability research in London, Southampton, Manchester, and Glasgow. We optimise information for laptops, tablets and smartphones so customers have the best possible user experience. We help clients benefit from understanding their audiences’ varying needs.

My Journey into UX Design

The field of User experience (UX) design was largely unknown to me until fairly recently.  It is not something I was introduced to as part of my undergraduate psychology degree despite studying ‘Cyberpsychology’, which focuses on the study of human cognition and behavior within the ever expanding digital world. Although the ‘Cyberpsychology’ part of my course did not directly discuss UX design as a discipline (which now I think it should have) it opened my eyes to the effects that technology is having on our everyday lives, from the way we communicate to how we behave offline vs online. This is what initially drew my interest to the field of online research.

Dr. Susan Weinschenk UX
Dr. Susan Weinschenk on the psychologists view of UX Design

Yet, it wasn’t until shortly after I completed my degree that I first came face to face with the term UX design. I was scouring job sites (as all new graduates do) trying to find an area where I could combine my background in psychology with my new interests in online research. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first as to how UX design and psychology were intrinsically related. However, once I began researching the field more thoroughly, I immediately recognize the overlap.

I discovered that like empirical psychological research, good UX design relies on data gathered from qualitative and quantitative research methods such as interviews, observations and surveys. Having a background in psychology placed me in a great position to start practicing UX, as not only had I built a strong foundation around these research practices, but I had also (without realizing it) studied many of the same theories and concepts that underpin much of the research that is done within UX.

For example, I found that motivation, perception, memory, attention and cognitive biases must all be considered when observing/testing users. I also found that the only way to consider these concepts in relation to different users is to be empathetic. Thus, the ability to show empathy and understand another person’s situation and experience has been essential to my role as a UX researcher. Empathy is another UX skill I have been developing unwittingly for a number of years through my previous work as a student mentor. When I came to realize its importance within UX research, I knew that this was the right career choice for me.

designbook

One strange aspect of being a UX researcher that I have grown to enjoy is explaining what it is to other people. As UX is a relatively unknown field it is very common for others to ask what it is. Although explaining what UX is to laymen can be a hard task at times, I get a great sense of satisfaction and achievement from another person having an ‘aha’ moment when they finally come to understand what I do (I get the same feeling when a user instinctively knows how to work an interface).

I’ve found that one of the most effective ways of explaining UX to another person is to discuss the design of everyday objects and why they are designed that way. Once they realize that everything from their car to their Xbox controller has mountains of usability research behind it they often think ‘well yeah I guess it does make sense to do the same thing for websites’.

UX Design
Understanding UX Design

A good example of this was when I was discussing my new job with my brother and I was using one of the many definitions that I had picked up online to describe it to him (such as these UX Design, UX Research), but he was still finding it hard to understand. The conversation then moved on to his new car and how it was so much easier for him to start and stop the engine using a button rather than turning a key and that’s when I said that’s the outcome of UX research, that’s what I do, but think online…his ‘Aha’ moment then followed shortly after.

This is also when I realized that UX practitioners had been recycling findings from fields like ergonomics and human factors and applying them to online environments, which only enhanced my interest in the field.

Looking to the future I’m excited to see what new challenges I’ll face in my role as a UX researcher and how the field will evolve alongside new technologies. Also, having spoken to others in the field and seeing how enthusiastic they are (even after 10 years) I’m very confident that I have made the right career choice.

 

Gary Maccabe

Junior UX Researcher with a background in psychology and social media management. My interest in UX design stems from my time studying Cyberpsychology and human cognition as part of my BSc. (Hons) Psychology degree. Although it is still early in my career I have provided many large organisations with UX services and solutions. This experience has given me a solid understanding of what good UX design is and how to deliver it.