This week’s Wednesday Woman of Ladies that UX is Kelsey Bones of the Belfast chapter.
Kelsey is a UX Designer at Whitespace and got into UX when she was looking for a job for her placement year at university. Over to you Kelsey…
I’d been contacted by a local UX agency who were looking for a placement student. I wasn’t sure about UX and wasn’t keen on how much research and documentation was involved. I wanted to be a designer not a researcher! Eventually I was talked into going for it, as I could always practice design in my spare time but there weren’t many places where I could immerse myself and really learn about UX. So I went for it and got the placement and spent the next two years working for and learning from that company as a junior UX designer.
These days, I like knowing that I’m making peoples’ lives easier through my work. Making a difficult or annoying task easier or more delightful and getting feedback on the difference its made to someone’s day.
Who inspires you, and what do you see for your future career?
I admire Elizabeth Churchill, director of user experience at Google. She was one of the first women I saw in such a senior role in the area I work in, and it inspired me to one day be that person for other young women. She helped me appreciate the importance of having female role models in your area of work.
In future, I’d love to either be senior level at a tech giant like Google or maybe run my own UX agency – I’m clear that I want to stay hands on, working with users, either way!
Tell us a bit about your involvement with Ladies that UX Belfast
The senior UX designer at my placement, MT, ran the Belfast chapter a few years ago. During my placement she suggested restarting it and enlisted me and Sophia, who also worked there at the time, to be co-leaders!
There’s a large tech scene in Belfast but it’s very development based. You could go to a different meetup every night about something different in dev. But there’s almost nothing around UX and interface design. And none specifically aimed at supporting and helping women and minorities. We fill that gap.
One of the great things about Ladies that UX is sharing experiences and knowledge. Realising there are a lot of people who face the same issues as you do, and a whole community to support you along the way has been a huge benefit.
The women who come along say they feel like they’re part of a community and that, in such a male dominated space, it’s great to get together with other women and share our knowledge and experiences in a safe space.
“When it comes to volunteering at Ladies that UX, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people, it’s good for your CV and it’s fun. Why wouldn’t you get involved!?”
Kelsey – Ladies that UX Belfast
What would you tell someone who’s thinking of going to, or volunteering at Ladies that UX?
It’s such an inclusive community, everyone is very welcoming. It’s great for travelling because you know there’s a high chance of their being a group where you’re going. It’s great for networking in a relaxing non pressured environment. And everyone I’ve met so far has been lovely and so willing to chat to people who have come by themselves. When it comes to volunteering, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people, it’s good for your CV and it’s fun. Why wouldn’t you get involved!?
We might have mentioned that this year’s Talk UX theme is People and Connections. What have they meant to you?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that design is a small world and who you know really can make a difference. I found out about my graduate job because a friend of mine from university knew the lead in a new team who were starting out looking for a UX designer but hadn’t advertised yet. I’ve also got a lot of feedback from people who I’ve connected with on Twitter. Twitter’s design community is great if you’re looking for freelance jobs or feedback on projects. It’s also a great learning resource as everyone is sharing their knowledge or interesting articles they’re reading.
“When you know you have someone to support you and back you up you can take more risks and speak out more.”
Kelsey – Ladies that UX Belfast
You’ve mentioned sharing knowledge and experiences a few times…
Sharing experiences is very important – it helps others know they aren’t alone and can help them find ways of dealing with issues or difficulties. Advocating for, and giving a vice to other women in your team, not just other UX Designers, is important too, as it can be difficult to be heard.
That’s a great point about being given a voice – tell us a bit more about the importance of the support of others
When you know you have someone to support you and back you up you can take more risks and speak out more. It can give you the confidence you need to take that step and apply for a promotion or change jobs.
Who do you want to shout out that’s supported you along the way?
I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing people – MT from my original job is amazing. I learned so much from her and the others there. I was encouraged to learn and read as much as possible and given ample space to do so while working. Learning was encouraged which was really useful to me, especially as I was at the start of my career.
When I moved jobs I was supported by my new boss in a different way, he thrust me into a massive project and was confident in my ability to rise to the challenge (even when I wasn’t!). Completing that project and having the client come back and say they wanted to do another project with us, I realised that I can do my job and that I need to have more trust in my own abilities.
Lastly, we’d love to hear your advice for getting into UX
Read. A lot. I cannot recommend the articles by NN/g (nngroup.com) more highly, they are informative and succinct. I also love the book The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley. It’s a great book for individuals who want to start working UX research into their flow, or design teams who don’t currently carry out research but want to dip their toes in the water. Going to your local Ladies that UX meetup is also a great place to meet people who currently work in UX and maybe get feedback on research you are doing.