Industry Leaders on the Future of UX

16

FEBRUARY, 2018

Written by Katherine Pendrill
Photographs by Andrew Pieroni

To anyone unfamiliar with user experience design, the world of wireframes and user-testing can sound more than a little intimidating. Our recent event “How to Put the ‘YOU’ in UX Design,” aimed to dispel this notion and combat the myth that you need to be tech-savvy to create memorable experiences. In front of a packed audience, panelists Karen Hawkins, Mike Costanzo, and Scott MacGregor discussed how they got into UX, what they love about their profession, and their thoughts on the future of design thinking. With attendees ranging from young creatives interested in upping their digital skills, to experienced designers, the panel served as a perfect introduction to the world of UX design.

Vassilios Alexiou

Creative Leadership & Experience Design

Karen Hawkins

Senior Experience Designer

Mike Costanzo

VP, Product

Scott MacGregor

Experience Director

Vassilios Alexiou

Creative Leadership & Experience Design

Karen Hawkins

Senior Experience Designer

Mike Costanzo

VP, Product

Scott MacGregor

Experience Director

“Most people will say
they came to UX via a
non-traditional avenue.”
– Karen Hawkins

“Most people will say they came to UX via a non-traditional avenue.”
– Karen Hawkins

All Roads Lead to UX

The path of a UX designer is rarely liner and moderator Vassilios “Vass” Alexiou kicked off the night by asking each panelist to describe their own unique journey to UX. For Karen, a trained industrial engineer, her career path included a stint as a personal trainer before discovering her passion for digital design.

However, Karen’s story is hardly the exception. Both Mike and Scott described a winding path to UX — including more than one career change along the way. For Mike, it was ultimately designing MySpace pages that showed him there was a way to combine his love of art and science. Similarly, Scott spent several years as a successful copywriter before realizing there was another way to bring his stories to life. In the end, all panelists agreed that designing experiences for the needs of real users is what drew them to the world of UX.

“Accessibility has
been left behind.”
– Mike Costanzo

“Accessibility has
been left behind.”
– Mike Costanzo

Designing a More Accessible Future

While it is clear that there is no single path to becoming a UX designer, one trait that all panelists share is the passion for accessibility. For Karen in particular, accessibility is a top priority. She underscored the importance of designing for previously overlooked populations in order to make sure that everyone — regardless of their abilities — has access to the same tools.

Mike echoed this sentiment by adding that inclusivity must go beyond interfaces with the hiring of more diverse design teams. He noted that despite the vocal fight for equality, “accessibility has largely been left behind.” As a result, there has never been a greater demand for designers with the skills to create more accessible experiences.

“I love finding out what problems real users are
dealing with. It’s never what you think it is.”
– Scott MacGregor

“Start with the story. Get it all out on the page.”
– Scott MacGregor

Test, Learn, Change

After tackling some of the more technical aspects of the design process, Vass asked each panelist to offer up some words of wisdom for anyone interested in breaking into the field. For Scott, it all comes back to storytelling, while Karen emphasized the importance of building a great portfolio to show off your skills. From Mike’s perspective, pursuing design simply means realizing that no one is an expert on everything.

Despite their different perspectives, each panelist agreed that the key to success in UX lies in learning as much as you can, from as many people as you can, in as many disciplines as possible. Assuaging the fears of those without a design background, Vass reassured the audience that you don’t need a tech background to get started, “you just need to be passionate about the user experience.”

“If you don’t fail, what
kind of designer are you?”
– Vass Alexiou

“If you don’t fail, what kind of designer are you?”
– Vass Alexiou

For those inspired to put the ‘you’ in UX design, Miami Ad School Toronto’s new UX Bootcamp is the perfect opportunity. Applications are due March 15th and classes begin April 3rd.

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