Snigdha Banerjee: Cognitive Science and Code to UX Research

I first became interested in coding as a neuroscience researcher, where I programmed experiments and analyzed data sets of brain activity, eye tracking, and behavioral responses from different populations. Learning to code in Matlab and other software specific to the field allowed me to apply signal processing techniques and statistical methods. When I learned about User Experience Design, I wanted to learn other languages for front-end development and prototyping. I enjoyed wire framing and creating my own designs, and I was looking to create high-fidelity, live prototypes with my new skills.

During graduate school, I studied how people pay attention to visual information in their environment. I developed a fascination with design and how people interacted with technology. I also grew a passion for improving user experiences with technology through an understanding of users’ needs, motivations, and cognitive processes.

Coming from a background in cognitive science, I feel that there is enormous potential in correlating quantitative and qualitative data to maximize insights from user research. I wanted to leverage my skills to make an impact in this direction. I currently have opportunities to do this daily, as UX Researcher at a financial software company. I gather feedback from our users to inform our company’s understanding of users’ needs and pain points in using software products.

Coding isn’t something that came to me easily, but I now take lot of pleasure in the process. Coming from a scientific background, analytical thinking and problem solving were part of my everyday work, and I discovered parallels in the mindset necessary for coding and designing research. When I first started coding, it was difficult to think of how to assign variables and manipulate large arrays of brain activity data. As I learned more, I enjoyed developing independence and mastering new skills. WWCode helped me a lot with overcoming new challenges when learning languages for front-end development.

One of the things that has been crucial for my professional development is finding mentors. A mentor can be someone who knows a bit more than you, or they can be a seasoned professional who has been in the industry for many years. WWCode gave me a great community, where I was able to meet other women who were working in tech or looking to enter the industry. Some were more advanced programmers, and I learned a lot from them. Those interactions were inspiring and energizing, and I recommend that WWCode members seek formal or informal mentors in their network.

Since I transitioned careers, I have learned a great deal through my work, reading, attending conferences and events, and doing independent coursework, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with people who are just starting out and could benefit from my experience.

More about Snigdha Banerjee

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