Leanne Coker describes her first few months as a user researcher at dxw…

Hello! I’m Leanne Coker – the newest User Researcher to join dxw.

My dxw journey began at Silicon Milkroundabout back in May while I was walking around with a stickered lanyard around my neck and a batch of CVs in my bag.

Then I came across the dxw stand. As someone who’s always worked in technology for the sense of making the world a better place to live, the strapline on the dxw banner stood out to me amongst the sea of flashy gaming, media and fashion companies…

“This is what I want to do – I have to go and speak to these people!” I thought  (just after I’ve grabbed another free coffee from the bar that is). And the rest is history, as they say.

Prior to joining dxw, I’d spent 10 years working on engineering and technology projects in the public sector – specifically in the transport sector. Over that time I saw the landscape change in many ways, and this shaped my career path. I was witnessing:

My keen interest in all of these areas led me to a varied and interesting journey of learning and development. After initially graduating with a master’s degree in Engineering, I later went on to complete a post-graduate diploma in Ergonomics and Human Factors. This broad education, along with my experience as an engineer and designer (at several large engineering firms), is what has led me to my specialism today –  applying user-centred design to the development of socio-technical systems.

I’ve worked on projects ranging from very large physical systems such as train stations and train maintenance depots to asset management software and systems for automated train control, signalling and traffic management. The one thing that all of these projects had in common is that they were all socio-technical systems. They were systems involving not just technology but also people, process and the wider environmental and social factors. I love the challenge of tackling this sort of complexity and solving real-world problems through innovative, human-centred design.

My engineering background definitely influences my approach to problem- solving just as much as my specialist training in user research and user-centred design. It has taught me to be a systems-thinker and given me a rigorous approach to data analysis.  My training at design school also means my approach to user research is heavily design-focussed. I love the process of framing problems with questions and hypotheses and then using research techniques to find answers and inform the design process.

So after a decade working in transport, I’m excited to be here at dxw. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into some fresh challenges, working with a new and diverse range of users and being a part of the growth and evolution of the user research and user-centred design capability at dxw.