Hardware and Software of the human brain: The Birth of UX Design

In my about.me profile and a common icebreaker in most of my conversations I use the phrase “Growing up I always thought I wanted to be a neurosurgeon but later on i realized i was more interested in the software rather than the hardware”

Now if you’re a reader who drops an article at the slightest sense of a bio-centered article I recommend an exit strategy at this point and to rest…let’s move on!I am about to take you on journey on how an aspiring doctor turned into a UX designer somewhere in Africa….and yes! I do see animals on my way to work and i love it!

Kenya. Pretty much popular country in Hollywood and Tech world at this point but if you were to talk about software engineering in Kenya to a Kenyan 10 years ago the typical answer would be “Why bother! Everyone buys their software/CRM/DBA from Oracle/Microsoft/Sun {insert as appropriate}!” Hard to believe but well we all know how it turned out headlines and all.

This is the same phrase my parent used on me when i came home from school in my third year of high school and told them i had changed my mind about pursuing medicine in college and would rather do software engineering. Well as familiar to my African audience being a sort to speak “bright child” meant you were aligned to study medicine/aviation/law and any other choice would be deemed a “waste of brains” , “poor investment” or just a case of wrong life choices.

To cut the long story short am still having my ‘i told you so’ moment and they are glad my career path is climbing at a faster rate than if i had taken the medical path. Not to dismiss it but what am trying to bring out is passion….passion in key. First curiosity then passion. Curiosity is what made me wonder about how the brain works,why people love the things they use,what makes them tick and passion is what drives me to work everyday. I’ve heard of several doctors who are really passionate about what they do and for them those long years of study,apprenticeship and tuition fee were worth it.

Which brings me to UX design how i stumbled upon this Atlantis…how did i transition from an engineering field to a somewhat design field and what hardships did i or am i encountering.Being in an engineering class i always struggled with conforming (actually i struggle with this everyday). I struggled with trying to fit in to what it means to be a female student in an engineering class,not in the cliche women in tech feminist way but facing criticisms from even my female counterparts. At some point i doubted my career choice and wished i listened to my parents.At least in med class i could put on a wrap dress and mules under my white coat? I think? At least that’s what Mindy Kaling makes it look like?You see if you’re a female in an engineering /computer science class who doesn’t put on a t-shirt and jeans on an every day basis then you are either lost and still trying to figure out your major or just not serious. I stand to be refuted.

Well for some time i gravitated around front-end and mobile development (html,css,javasript,j2me,android) and after landing in a HCI (Human Computer Interaction) class i was sold. With awesome mentors and a very insightful internship at the iHubUXlab(The very first User Experience lab in Sub-Saharan Africa) i have never looked back. I now have clever responses to why i carry psychology and design books in my laptop bag and to questions such as “why should i care what the user interface looks like!” I am at home with what am capable of and though i still struggle with ux unicorness i don’t regret. I doubt myself if not more than occasionally but i strive at proving myself wrong each time. Passion,Diligence,Curiosity that’s all it takes.Oh! and Empathy.

I hope this “short” bio of mine inspires someone out there

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Marie Amuti’s story.