Take the Risk — You Will be Glad you Did.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a torn piece of newspaper that read:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Coincidentally (I do believe), this was right around the time I was anxiously debating quitting my Marketing job of 2+ years at a tech startup to take the User Experience Design Immersive course at General Assembly. I knew I needed a career change, and user experience design was something I could be great at — but quitting a good job to take a bootcamp course? This was by far one of the largest risks in my book.

Well I did some soul searching, and with the encouragement from a handful of supportive friends and family (and truly amazing boyfriend), I changed the ‘He’ on the torn piece of paper to ‘She’ and off I went to begin a new chapter in my career!

Torn piece of newspaper on my refrigerator

A little about me:

Growing up I was always doodling on tablecloths, decorating my freshly painted bedroom wall (my parents weren’t very thrilled with this) and beautifying my childhood driveway - each brick perfectly blanketed with sidewalk chalk in every color of the rainbow. I have always been one to tell a story in a visual format, rather than a written one. I am obsessed with detail and realism — the wrinkles on an older man’s face, the elaborate facade of the Milan Duomo, the intricate design of Moroccan mosaic tiles. I am fascinated with how things work and creating things with my hands. I have since graduated with a BFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University and have worked in several creative and tech-related fields.

Ever since my first taste of psychology back in sophomore year of high school when I spent the summer studying at Penn State University, I have always been interested in how the mind works. Why do people act the way they do? Why does stress and anxiety make us physically ill? What thoughts are running through a psychopaths head? (I do love a good true crime or unsolved mystery). I mention my interest in psychology because many aspects of user experience design are rooted in psychology. Solving a users problem (or murder mystery) is what UX is all about right? UX is about understanding your user, and you must dig deeper to discover who that user is and what they really want (because most times what your user says is not necessarily what your user actually wants or needs). Don Norman says it best:

Who can predict what new companies will arise, what existing companies will disappear, and what new technologies will arise in the next twenty-five years?The one thing I can predict with certainty is that the principles of human psychology will remain the same, which means that design principals here, based on psychology, on the nature of human cognition, emotion, action, and interaction with the world, will remain unchanged. — Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

On another note:

I get an overwhelming sense of joy making other people happy. Helping others is what makes me the MOST happy. Having a bad day? Leave a hidden note of encouragement in a friends notebook for them to find at a later date. Notice someone in a hurry? Let them cut you in line at the coffee shop. It’s amazing what the little things can do.

Why do I bring this up, you might ask?

User experience design goes way beyond the perfect color palette for your client’s new website or designing a new way to display navigation. User experience design is about empathy. By understanding your user, you will create a much better product and overall experience for your user. A seamless, helpful user experience = a happy user.

Have you ever really thought about a good user experience? How about a bad one — a broken image or missing contact information on a website? Today, the average user expects the experience to be flawless and stress-free. They will not give a second thought to the experience unless something goes wrong. Therefore, its up to us to give the user the best possible experience catered to them. Because why not make their lives a little easier if we can?

My passion for design, psychology, and technology have led me to where I am today. Next week I begin my new career path at GA. Over the next 10 weeks I invite you to follow along as I document my crazy journey to becoming a user experience designer. Excited to share with you everything I will learn!

One last piece of advice:

Believe in yourself. Take the risk. You will be glad you did.