Elisabeth Hubert is an independent consultant in the User Experience field with extensive experience in website strategy design, interaction design and information architecture. Her professional background includes an impressive variety of design, strategy and product development experiences as she has worked with companies ranging from fresh startups to established Fortune 500 businesses. Read more about Lis on the About page of her Blog.
Here are Lis’s answers to 5 questions about working and developing a career in user experience.
1) If I’m just starting out in UX, what skills should I focus on developing that will differentiate me from the rest of my job market competition?
Elisabeth Hubert: One skill that I would say is more important than all others in the UX field is great communication. By this I mean not only getting your points across well through talking, writing, or drawing, but also being a great listener. As a UXer, you will need to be able to define the problems that you will be asked to solve, and you can only do this if you really push yourself to listen closely to others, empathize with them as much as possible and care about helping them.
2) In your opinion, what are the most common portfolio mistakes UX professionals should avoid when job searching?
EH: Not knowing what is in your portfolio. When job searching and interviewing you should be able to point out the different pieces and aspects of your work that exemplifying whatever situation the interviewer is looking at. For example if the interviewer asks you whether you have a piece of work that shows your ability to be conceptual, then you should be able to pull out that piece of work and start speaking to it without much hesitation. Another equally important mistake to avoid is only having wireframes and finished deliverables in your portfolio. Bring anything that shows what you are capable of doing including sketches, personas, mind maps, taxonomies, random doodles… whatever, but ensure you can talk to how it shows your knowledge.
3) What publications (blogs, newsletters, books, podcasts, etc) do you recommend the most to UX professionals seeking inspiration?
EH: As far as books go, I always recommend Don’t Make Me Think by Steven Krug and Information Architecture for the World Wide Web By Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld. Another great book that I have been recommending is Carolyn Chandler & Russ Unger’s A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making.
4) How should a UX professional approach a corporate job interview vs. an agency job interview?
EH: I would approach them fairly similarly. The main thing is to understand the business differences and use those to specify your answers. An agency makes money on a different model than an in house shop, so understanding these differences is important to directing your answers.
5) What should UX professionals do to increase the amount of support they receive from other departments within their company?
EH: Use their knowledge and research to back up the rationale for their designs… constantly. Prove that you are an expert in a field that demands respect and attention. Also, work hard to create good relationships with everyone in the organization; this will help increase your credibility and support.
Bonus Question: Who is your industry Hero? (Who has had the most professional influence on you and your career?)
EH: Wow this is a great question. The first person that comes to mind would be my first manager/boss/colleague in the UX field, Mike Nickel. He inspired me to fall in love with this profession and pursue it with all of the passion I possess. I can’t thank him enough.