I have always been a curious sort and wanted to see, understand and experience. By the second half of my 20s I have been an event organizer, events ambassador, junior at a hairdressers, receptionist, employed and self-employed photographer, nightclub photographer and customer service assistant as well as an event and photography graduate, and a psychology masters student. I have moved abroad, learnt a new language and tried to absorb as much of a foreign culture as possible.
I strongly believe that I have learnt a lot from all this but it was time to make a decision and plan ahead for the next few years. At the age of 27 I started to wonder how will I ever use my hair washing skills in psychology? Should I just learn something new instead?
UX design has always seemed interesting but never approachable. In my mind it was the bridge between people and technology.
I was really excited when a junior UX position came up at Dock9 because I have known the company and followed its growth for 4 years. I had no experience to become a junior but a strong desire to learn. After a few task-based interview sessions, I was offered the UX internship position. In theory, the idea was that I learn to use Axure as much as I can, get involved in projects, understand the process, learn, learn, learn.
In practice, a lot more happened. My journey started before my first day. I was taking photos at Dock9’s Toast event that was beneficial for me as a photographer and as a UX intern. I met a few of my new colleagues and Boris, the robot.
From the first day I was following a (successful) project and soon I realized that I am ahead of some exciting times. Not just because everyone seemed to think really quickly but also because we were having lunch at Sushi Samba to celebrate 3 of us joining the company. What I didn’t know was that we were all going to have coffee together on Monday mornings, drinks at the end of each month (and whenever there is an excuse), play games, go running 5K/10K around the Tower of London, experience a Laughology session and go to the quarterly social evenings with our clients
Other than having fun and being motivated I have been learning a lot, from the best. I spent 99 % of my time with The Creatives, Jason, Haley and Livia.
Jason always has enough patience to explain and show perspective in whatever I’m working on. When I get stuck on an Axure problem, I ask him and in 2 mins, I understand what to do. Haley has amazing ideas and a great passion to take them all the way through. Livia finds some really cool ideas and she finds a way to use it on mortgage, insurance, financial services related websites. See Livia's latest blog post on Natural Language Forms here.
I have never been treated as less important than anyone else and I feel welcome to join meetings and presentations. Mark, the MD, has been following my progress and always spares some time to ask how I'm getting on and reflect. Not to mention, that he greeted me from the first day by pronouncing my name right, and like everyone else, he has always got it right since then.
In the first few weeks, I didn't even get to the end of a 150 page book because I was at user testing sessions, learnt practical justification, saw ideas develop, changes implemented and projects evolve. Finally I had arrived somewhere where it is ok to be interested, curious and break conventions. I was reading books and books and UX blogs and websites, watching videos. Of all these I found the following some of the most helpful:
- Steve Krug ‘Don’t make me think'
- Don Norman ‘The design of everyday things'
- Smashing Magazine
- Axure Forum
By the end of two months, I did competitor analysis, did research for ideas, wrote a user-testing report, edited testing videos, and worked on my own Axure project as well as on a live project. I had a chance to research and design my own idea and to learn from my mistakes.
So am I learning something new again or am I using my existing skills? Both. I am learning to recognise the repeating patterns and learning how to justify and implement them.
I am happy to be working with those who inspire and hope to become someone similarly inspiring for others in the future.