From Journalist to UX Designer (In Conversation with Roots’ Alexis Collado)

Jem Careers, User Experience Design

While on vacation, Alexis Collado, a UX practitioner in the Philippines, interviewed me for his podcast called Roots. It features Filipino designers who have made their mark in the User Experience world and I was honoured to be his third guest!

The full interview is available on his podcast website. And being the excitable first-time podcast guest, I blasted it on my social media feeds – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it! – so it reaches you and warms you on a balmy winter day. Here’s one of those big, loud tweets:

We talked about how I got started in UX, my bumpy academic ride (that spanned two countries and two continents), the people who got me where I am in the industry today, and my views about mentorship. I was especially fired up when we talked about mentorship and how it shouldn’t and doesn’t require 100 years of experience.

Not sure whether you should click that tweet to the podcast (you know you want to 😜)? Here are some highlights from my fun chat with Alexis:

Jem’s Beginnings
  • I wanted to become a journalist as a kid. I wanted to be the face that you wake up or say good night to as long as you had a TV (or a smartphone).
  • But Canada called 😍. Life was never the same way again. 🙌 🇨🇦 👏
  • I spent much of undergrad being a campus journalist. That’s what I meant when I say I am a “former journalist who became a UX designer”.
  • I had a crisis of confidence midway through my journalistic journey, which ultimately led to me break up with my first professional love, i.e. journalism.
  • Life has a sense of humour, though. Turns out that my journalistic training would be useful in technology and UX design! And I was correct.
On Mentorship
  • “People can teach people certain skills. It’s a dangerous mindset to say I need tons upon tons of experience just to mentor.”
  • Obviously, you don’t want the blind leading the blind. But you also don’t want to wait for perfection before dispensing your hard-earned, precious knowledge.
  • The Curse of Knowledge is real. And it’s a sad and disappointing way to think of mentorship.
  • I mentor because “I have been given so much that the only sensible thing to do is to share a little bit of it somehow.”
Doing UX Research
  • UX designers are in a relationship with the people they are designing for. We’re relationship builders of the highest degree.
  • Ask why. Always.
  • We’re no longer in the mechanistic age where people bow down to the constraints of technology. We are in the humanistic age of contemporary technology. UX research gets to that human element.
On Business-Centricity
  • UX practitioners aren’t user advocates alone. We also work for (if not with) the business.
  • The typical product folklore starts with an understandably human-centric need. But what keeps a product going is the business structure that allows it to sustain and monetize itself.
  • Know your company’s (or client’s) history, i.e. why they are in business to begin with. This helps you identify with your company’s goals and mission.
UX’s Imminent Future
  • Designing for prediction (a.k.a. “Predictive User Experience Design“)
  • Predictive UX will play out in the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning front (it’s the focus of Toronto’s design world today).
  • UX practitioners will need to have Data Science knowledge to keep up with the predictive/anticipatory desires of companies.
  • We will have to know the story behind the data and design in response to (or in anticipation of) such finding.
Becoming the Best UX Practitioner Ever
  • “You cannot go wrong with [having] the best of intentions”
  • We’re empathetic individuals who are attuned to how people feel. We live to make things better.
  • Without a “deep well of love and devotion” for an industry, burning out is a possibility.
  • But “the way we love” will see us through those dark, stressful moments.

Go listen to it!

You’ve seen the highlights. Now it’s time for you to listen to that podcast episode! Head over to my Roots interview and get to know more about what UX means to me!