Being generally annoyed with inefficiencies made me a user researcher
Having worked in hospitality for a number of years, I started my professional tech journey just over five years ago at a startup providing reservation systems. Not exactly a ‘saving the world’ sort of industry, but it did expose me to to the value of paying attention to people. I learnt to listen, observe and question. I also learnt a valuable lesson that there is a very big difference between what people say and actually do. Most of all, I was becoming increasingly annoyed with badly designed services, technology and day-to-day interactions. I figured there must be a community out there helping people not to want to throw their computer out the window; a community designing everyday things by talking to the people who will actually use them?
After some digging, I landed in UCL doing an MSc in Human-Computer Interaction. Amongst incredible amounts of information and learnings, the most valuable takeaway from the whole course was that people always come first. Understand your users, appreciate the differences among them and describe what they are trying to achieve. That’s my user-centred recipe to reveal truly valuable opportunities for technology to facilitate change and solve problems!
Doing user research for public sector – satisfying the need to do something meaningful
At UCL I was exposed to a variety of cool ‘internet of things’ projects, yet I was most intrigued by a project for a local council. It made me realise just how many challenges real people with real differences face when interacting with public services. Most importantly how easy it is to acknowledge the majority and overlook the needs and challenges for those most in need.
There’s also an added layer of constraints and complexity in public sector, which has turned many services into rigid monstrosities. Thankfully the Government Digital Service has done exceptional work helping the public sector move towards resilient services and technologies, which support real people with real needs. At dxw I am working towards helping the everyday person and helping civil servants help others, which really does bring meaning and a sense of purpose to my day, every day.
Understand your users, appreciate the differences among them and describe what they are trying to achieve. That’s my user-centred recipe to reveal truly valuable opportunities for technology; to facilitate change and solve problems!
Working in an upbeat, autonomous environment – looking forward to Mondays
I was meant to write this blog a good few weeks ago, but delayed it while waiting for the excitement to wear off. After all, can you really love your job? Commuter hell, working late, being switched on all the time and hating Mondays seem to be the norm these days. Anyone who has seen a Monday meme would probably agree with me…
Weeks have gone by and I am still waiting for someone to burst my bubble. I find myself having to contain excitement and wondering how to deal with all this goodness. At times I do feel like a fraud, but that’s just a side effect of being surrounded by extremely talented and driven people working together towards making a difference.
Someone recently described dxw as a bunch of hippies doing really serious stuff. The people, the location, the values and ways of working fits perfectly with where I imagined to be a few months ago.