Interview with Michelle Scott; UX Designer, Researcher & Mentor

Interview with Michelle Scott; UX Designer, Researcher & Mentor

Hi everyone! After I started my blog and became slightly obsessed with UX, my partner convinced me to try Linkedin out. I was hesitant to give yet another social media platform more of my time but I must say I am so impressed with the platform. Firstly because it was this platform that gives me the opportunity to look at content directly related to my industry, as well as connect and chat to people I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to communicate with. I started out by messaging multiple people in the industry, after a lot of blatant no’s and people outright ignoring me I found Michelle. Michelle is truly a wonderful inspiration to me. She is in the UX industry and constantly offers others help on achieving their goals. When I reached out to her she gave me valuable advise on my skill set, ideas for my current position as well as a priceless review of my portfolio. Michelle you have really helped me so much and I really value everything you have done in the industry not only for me but for so many other people out there looking for some guidance in this ever changing industry.

 

Michelle also agreed to answer a few questions I sent through see below for her our interview

In the first question I ask Michelle about her transition from a UX design position to a UX researcher position. Something that stood out for me that was;

 

“Part of my job there, was meeting with them [users] face to face and asking them about the documentation and whether it met their needs, just getting opinions from, perspectives from them. It was a very iterative process, they would let me know the information wasn’t exactly correct or that it should be in a different format…. I had no idea that was actually user research I was just doing what I thought made sense which was too talk to the people which were using the software.”

 

I absolutely loved this, I remember for so long questioning design and wondering why does this work better than that and how can it be proved. The fact that Michelle was doing this without even knowing it was UX just shows how her mind was already geared for a future in UX. Moving forward in the video Michelle talks about how the industry is a UX market, that is really an amazing added bonus for me. It was really difficult in the graphic and multimedia design industry. I am really not sure what it is like in other countries but here in my home country South Africa, I have known designers with +/- two years experience getting around (after conversions) $500 a month. This makes me so mad but something like this happens because designers are desperate for the work and the industry knows that the amount of designers out there to choose from is in access. I had numerous positions where I got turned down purely because the company would say that they found someone to do the job for cheaper, and if I was able to lower my income the job could be a possibility. It is a comforting thought to know that the skill set I now have will at least not have those sort of hurdles, well hopefully! As a higher salary is normally relative to the market being in favour of the industry professionals rather than the employers.

When I brought up the question of tips for job hunting in the industry Michelle again had such valuable advise, explaining how the industry and technology is constantly changing. I really couldn’t agree more and I think with the industry continually growing we also have an increase in processes and practices. Sometimes it’s confusing to know which process is better and for this I refer to none other than the NN/g group (Nielsen Norman Group). In this video they discuss how templates can really help with explaining vast amounts of content, as well as keeping track on the project for beginners starting out in the field. The video then discusses how processes can sometimes become to structured so make sure to ensure that the processes you are following for understanding the users in the best possible way are best suited to the project at hand

Michelle also touches on how job specs can sometimes be asking for too much, I often see this with specs asking for a UX designer with UI abilities and must be skilled with front end development skills meaning know Javascript PHP etc. It is difficult to say stay away from Job specs like that because maybe you have all those skills and enjoy the diversity, and maybe you just really need the job, but I often am very hesitant with roles like this because it’s often a small company that will pressure you into working long hours and you will have the pressure to be on top of all three major fields. I am saying this from past experience because I was once a Graphic designer, Social media manager and marketing manage all in one believe it or not! Anyway moving onto the rest of Michelle’s answers, Michelle also mentions how designers are kept in a bubble and this is so true. I have experienced that at multiple companies where they did not want to share business information with creative, I think it is dependent on the information of course but it does result in creative not feeling as valuable in the organisation when left in the dark like that. When I asked Michelle about her process for projects she had a very apt response;

 

“I would say it’s less about a structured process and more about a structured time to understand what needs to happen. So there definitely needs to be a discovery phase, a planning phase, design and development and interacting with the client. Every client is different, every user group is different and every experience is different. So I try not to cling to closely to a process because sometimes processes are to rigid to appreciate and reflect on the nuances that some clients and some projects bring, so for me it’s more about making sure there is time because that is the most valuable resource”

 

Michelle also brings up how when you work with clients they don’t really know what they want sometimes. Which is so true! I have worked with clients before as a designer and it was just horrid when the client could not explain exactly what they wanted but knew that what you were doing was wrong. Working with UX clients can be the same, that’s why communication is so important to avoid issues like the below

I liked how Michelle spoke about her passion, I actually caught myself looking at all the art more than a few times during the video. In the past it has been difficult trying to display all the information needed for a role in your portfolio and then in the actual interview. I am glad I now have this blog, thanks Michelle for the wonderful compliments, it has really helped me grow as a Uxer and constantly pushes me to learn more to ensure that I bring the most interesting content to readers. I think it is an easy and wonderful way to display your knowledge, skill set and thought patterns to prospective employers and clients. Let me round off by saying what a wonderful experience it has been interviewing you Michelle and thank you for the opportunity! Happy researching until next time Uxers

 

Bye for now

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