Mom, Dad — this is why UX
People can take a lifetime trying to to figure out what they want to do. Kinda ironic, no? As someone who always had a plan, the time after college felt like a whole lifetime for me. Endless job listings, late night cover letters, constantly questioning who am I and what am I doing.
That last part is what propelled me forward. After 5 months of gasping in the vortex of unemployment, something entirely new to me as I always had a job in college, forced me to sit myself down for a chat.
Who are you?
What do you like?
What do you not like?
What can you contribute?
What is tangible and what is ephemeral?
Where do you start!
In college, I decided to take a UX class (UX = User Experience) a semester after I took a Front-End Development course. As a Visual Studies major, I was always drawn to technology as the digital realm is rapidly changing our lifestyles. In short, I loved the class. It was fun figuring out User Flows and really taking in account for people’s needs for designing — after all that is the mother of invention according to Plato. But for some reason, which is still befuddling to me, I never thought of pursing it as a career.
For a couple months I worked customer service jobs around the city, from working as a hostess near the Brooklyn Bridge, concierge in LES, and a barista at a swank cafe. It wasn’t till a friend asked me to help organize a branding deck for his event, something I had fun doing in college, that something struck me. I love organizing data and creating experiences.
Working on his branding deck was a rough version of user interviews and ideating. Moving a garbage next to the sweeteners to fix a rogue trash problem was an example of user flows and service design. Creating and executing a game plan for a music festival is a sample of a user journey. UX Design was all around me. Ultimately, I just love talking to people and seeing how I can help.
The latter was the reason that pushed me to UX Design School at General Assembly.
How can I help someone?
Being a doctor was never in my cards. I couldn’t even look at my ankle after I sprained it playing basketball. UX is cool. UX is fun. But how can it help others? Well, first answering ‘what is design’ is important to mine and every other designers’ story.
Design is the process of solving or simplifying a problem. Design is everywhere. Particularly, UX Design is a field that makes technology and information accessible and practical for anyone to use.
Ever log on to a website and said What am I looking at? Then ex-ed out the browser in result of frustration? That’s an example of bad UX Design. Good design doesn’t require you to think. It just happens. A door knob, a light switch — easy to understand? Good design.
As a UX Designer, I want to make information accessible to people. A future goal of mine is to redesign government websites to make resources, information, tools, and even people accessible to us again. How can we live in a democracy if the average citizen is incapable of finding the information they need in a timely manner?
UX Design is not just limited to improving apps and websites, but can also be applied to different hierarchies and systems from retail layouts to government user flows. It’s still a relatively new field (a new frontier, if you will) that for the first time in my life, I’m excited to explore because I’m finally getting to know myself. (I don’t recommend it, but a 5-month existential crisis really does wonders to your being.)
So Mom, Dad — any questions?
*PS feel free to forward this along to any other inquisitive relatives.
You can follow my adventures in UX Design on Medium and visually on my Instagram @annie_pan if, you know, are a visual learner.