How to Grow a UX Career and Advance Your User-Experience Expertise

How do you know when you’ve reached your expert status and how do you get there? During our New York Virtual You conference, we held a Q&A session where Jacob Nielson offered several tips for US practitioners looking to grow their careers.

Let’s say our first question is from Vinnie from Rio de Janeiro. And he asked if he doesn’t have a job yet, how do you practice some of the content that you’re learning during this conference, especially the ones that are the research based questions? How can you do that?

The first advice is a little bit silly, which is to get a job, because I do think that the best experience comes from working on real projects in a real company with real colleagues. But of course, the way to get a job is to have something that you can prove yourself and show to the hiring managers. And so doing some projects before you get a job is definitely a great thing as well. And I think there are really two main types of projects you can do. And so they are either what you do in some sense, kind of like your own project, that you just decide to do something for for you or for your own benefit, or that’s also where you do a kind of pro bono, which is sometimes called a project where you team up with somebody who is not paying for it because, again, you’re not yet at the stage where they’re going to write you a check, but you just work for free. So that could either be a nonprofit or could also be a company where, in essence, you are just working as an unpaid intern, which is an option as well. So I think that’s a different little bit between design and research for which of the two the most recommended are the best, because if you are a designer, you could take on your own project and say, let me grab some website and just redesign is how I think it should be better. That’s a nice thing to do and it can kind of be nice in the portfolio to have like a real website according to your kind of approach, rather than these kind of design school properties that are kind of completely made up and irrelevant. To be honest, most likely when I see portfolios of students, they are irrelevant to the science. They do. But do something, something real or redesign something real. The downside of that is that, of course, then we’ll design that all these trade offs that relate to the business model of what can be done about the engineers, say what the boss says and what 50 other people say. And therefore, these redesigns that people make on their own often tend to be a little bit unrealistic and maybe not compelling enough. And so that is actually a benefit of going into an organization and doing a real design project. If you don’t get paid for it, that can be something that’s better to show off, because it also remember that to get hired, people don’t want to just say where they did sign something nice. But how did they decide what was the process? How did they overcome these various setbacks and trade off scenarios? So that’s what the sign, I think doing a real design, even if you don’t get paid for it, is one of the ways to crank up your credentials to then later on get get hired and get paid for research. It’s almost kind of the opposite, because I think if you go and do research pro bono, then often it’s not going to be valued very much. If people don’t pay for it, you know, they will often tend to ignore the research findings. And also when you go and show them to others and say, well, we did this research project for, you know, like an opera company or something like that. And somebody it’s not an opera company when if they look at that and. Well, you yeah. You found out how to sell tickets for Mozart, but that has nothing to do with what we are doing. It goes to e-commerce. Right. Even if it’s e-commerce for the arts, but still e-commerce to sell tickets. But people will also tend to ignore that. On the other hand, as a researcher, you can do some very interesting self-defined projects, which you can do studies of some design elements, something I love, websites do. It can be something very specific, like a certain type of the filtering, or it can be something more general. Like one of the products that we we have done, for example, is on investor relations areas of corporate websites. That’s sort of a special area. And you can go and study that across, I say ten different websites and then you can come up with some very interesting conclusions that are generalized across that. And that is a great way of showing, kind of like really hopefully very deep insights that most people have not seen before. And so I think for researchers, you can define your own project and do some research of something that you think is interesting, but is a realistic thing that people actually companies actually do. And you can reach across websites or cross mobile apps or across a variety of different scenarios. And that’s something that that individual people who work in the company usually don’t have time for. And therefore, when they see that, it can be quite compelling often on your. And if you are a designer, I would say try to go in and do a real design project also for writers are really in many ways that like designers, but they design with words. So in some sense, the same advice would apply. But I think actually one more thing writers could do, which is you can also take some sample content and rewrite, but then not just one rewrite. Go back and read the articles we’ve written on a tone of voice and we have a model can render the model for different parameters, different dimensions of tone, of voice, and try to crank those dimensions up and down and define the safe for different tone of voice variations and then write the same content in those four ways. I think that can be a very compelling way of showing off that you are a good writer, if you can do that.

Well, thank you, Jake. I guess kind of on that same note, July 18 here in the US asks know, what is the one advice that you would give someone to be successful? I guess once they’re already into the field, you are to be successful in us.

I think the one of the big things is really experience and experience from actually doing us, not talking about it, you know, not sitting around in meetings. And honestly, in companies, people waste so much time in meetings. And this is one of the reasons I find it slightly relevant to say how many years experience of somebody have. I mean, yeah, you can have five years experience, but it’s five years spent in meetings and you have not learned very much. But you can have two years experience in a two years spent, like cranking it out or maybe two years in the lab with uses every day. And you’ve seen thousands of users, one on one. You can actually see if that’s thousands of users in two years, if you do it every day easily, actually. And so that’s vastly more experience than spending five years sitting in meetings. So that would be my if that’s like one thing to do to build up your.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *