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Get Interviewed

Episode 19: The “Nurse-Now-Designer”‍‍ 👩‍⚕️⏭️👩‍💻

Melissa Vernik will move you with the energy she brings to the design industry. A genuine designer that will better our world!

“Humans innately think ‘me-first’ but it’s difficult to solve another’s problem without stepping into their shoes.” ~Melissa Vernik

✨ About Melissa Vernik

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
I love your story about how you got into design. Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Melissa (or Mel) 😊 I’m a nurse turned UX designer! I’ve always been passionate about the arts/technology having been a singer/actress in high school and growing up tinkering around on my desktop Apple computer (think MySpace and AIM days 🤓).

Nursing provided a great base for me but after many years of working with little passion I decided to make a change. UX design came into my life where I’ve found I can still help people while doing work that I love.

💡 Philosophy

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
You have an interesting background having been a nurse. Given that, what would you say is unique about your personal philosophy towards design?

Melissa

Yes! It certainly is a unique transition. Personally, given my nursing background I believe that really empathizing with your user is the first and foremost most important part of user experience design. Humans innately think “me-first” but it’s difficult to solve another’s problem without stepping into their shoes. For example, it’s hard to treat a patient’s medical problem if you don’t truly feel what symptoms they experience. Design is the same, understand your user and you have a much higher probability of success!

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
How does that help motivate you to think forward and inspire others?

Melissa

I am highly motivated by impacting others. As much as I love to create aesthetic UI, none of that matters if the product doesn’t help the user. I hope showing people how important deep empathy is in design will cultivate more progressive designs that are truly centered around user needs above all.

🎯 Process

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
What does your design process usually look like?

Melissa

I always start with empathizing (no surprise there 😉). Many times design projects are in areas we aren’t personally familiar with. I spend a good amount of time researching, creating user personas, and understanding the product. My research methods consist of interviews, surveys, contextual inquiry, etc. depending on the product. Next, I begin creating a basic wireframe of ideas consisting of feature roadmaps, user flows, wireframe sketches, to serve as a blueprint for the final design. Then I’m able to add in the UI components. One of my favorite parts is designing a style tile for reference along the high fidelity designing process. This phase is all about creating/maintaining the branding of the product and integrating with the blueprint design. Finally, usability testing and fine-tuning/iterating!

👩‍💻 Projects

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
What kind of projects have you been working on recently?

Melissa

Most recently I worked on a website rebuild for a non-profit. This project was fun and challenging. While it was more of a UI redesign, I was able to educate the founder about some of the UX design principles of user accessibility, hierarchy, and information architecture in order to improve the flow of the site. It was challenging in that I did not have a developer working with me so integrating the designs provided obstacles but I was able to dabble some more in CSS/HTML which was fun!

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
How is your background playing a pivotal role in the success of these projects?

Melissa

Aside from being naturally empathetic, my background has allowed me to hone my prioritization, time-management, and ability to work in a fast-paced environment. In addition, I have learned how to communicate in difficult situations with confidence and with a variety of personalities. These skills have proven crucial in many instances with design projects. Working successfully within a timeline and being able to communicate professionally with stakeholders has helped projects more along smoothly.

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
What is the most interesting or exciting project you’ve worked on?

Melissa

Well, I had the opportunity to create my own design concept which was super fun to let my imagination run free! I ended up designing a software for a common 2021 problem — lack of face-to-face communication. While this was a cool design concept, it solves the problem by incentivizing users to interact at cafes in person by earning points. It was exciting because it was not a concept that already exists so the research component was pretty interesting and eye-opening. In addition, creating a brand was certainly fun and well-received!

👋 People

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
What are some common misconceptions you’ve noticed people have towards design?

Melissa

Many people seem to think of design as “looking pretty” at least in the UX design industry. It seems that design is synonymous with art or how a product looks when really it is more like an onion with many layers!

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼
What drives you the most about your career?

Melissa

I am most driven by solving problems! Before discovering what the field was about I was constantly finding myself frustrated with the lack of thought behind commons web or app designs. It’s funny too because I often see people who aren’t tech-savvy struggling with things that seem so innate to me. I’m super motivated to make designs that don’t perplex users!

👏 Thank you for reading!

WOW! I can’t thank you enough for all the incredible vibes you are bringing to this world Mel. The connection you’ve made from all your life experiences, and how you now apply that to your drive design is so inspirational. I’ll continue to spread the word about your unique story with any chance I can get. I truly can’t wait to see where your journey takes you next! Bravo! 🥂

This interview with Melissa Vernik is part of a blog series by Joe Pascavage ✍🏼 called “Get Interviewed”. If you would like to learn more about this initiative you can read about it here.

Do you want to share your story?

Send me a DM or tweet @joepascavage letting me know that you would like to “Get Interviewed”, and I’ll take it from there.

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This is a platform for both practitioners and leaders alike in the fields of design, research, content, tech, development, and product. With your consent your story will be published, and mutually shared across social media. 📬 Email to participate: info@joep.design

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Joe Pascavage ✍🏼

Joe Pascavage ✍🏼

Design Manager at thinkcompany.com & Founder of getinterviewed.blog. Find me @joepascavage or at joep.design

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