[accent]Career Advice for User Experience TalentThe user experience design field is one of the hottest and most sought after professions in the digital creative space and is quickly growing. Onward Search has some of the best UX opportunities in the country, allowing our talent the chance to further their careers in the best roles. As a sponsor of UX Week 2014, we asked some of the skilled presenters and a few of our own expert team members what advice they had for user experience professionals. Here’s what these UXperts had to say.[/accent]

Josh Clark

Josh_ClarkJosh Clark is a designer specializing in multi-device design, strategy and user experience. He’s authored five books, including “Tapworthy” (O’Reilly, 2010) and the forthcoming “Designing for Touch” (A Book Apart, 2014). Josh’s agency Global Moxie offers design services, strategic consulting and training to help creative organizations build tapworthy apps and responsive websites.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Embrace the idea that your job is not about screens and pixels. Creating great experiences is about coaxing joy, insight and convenience from your customer’s context. As digital designers, it happens that big monitors have been our primary tool for building technology-enabled experiences. But mobile began to change that, letting us carry digital experiences into the world, etched on the black glass slabs we carry with us. Digital UX began to move off the screen and into the physical realm.

That’s just the tiniest beginning. The coming wave of wearables, connected devices and home automation tools—the so-called “internet of everything”—is going to make nearly anything an interface. Objects, people, places, even our own bodies will be the canvases on which we design. What we do as UX professionals should no longer focus exclusively on screen flows but on industrial design, on ergonomics, on our paths and habits in physical space. In other words, the brief of the UX professional has to include nearly every aspect of what it means to be human.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Be playful. Splash in puddles, experiment with “silly” projects and don’t slavishly follow the status-quo “best practices” of the discipline. Digital UX is a young field, and our technologies mint fresh magic and new science every day. To generate genuine joy and insight means we have to be open to these new opportunities.

As design professionals, it’s tempting to try to create fixed rules for what works and then operate within those confines. But when you look at where the most clever interaction design comes from, it’s often in the design of toys and games, disciplines that value play and new experiences. The best advice I can offer, both personally and professionally, is to experiment with crazy ideas and dabble in adjacent disciplines. That’s where new discoveries and creative satisfaction lives.”

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Denise Jacobs

Karina_van.schaardenburg_UX_2014_2 Denise Jacobs, Principal & Creativity Evangelist at A Creative Dose, teaches techniques to make the creative process more fluid, methods for making work environments more conducive to creative productivity and practices for sparking innovation.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Make a commitment to regularly feed and nurture your creativity. Having strong creativity “muscles” means that you’ll always be able to approach any challenge with imagination and ingenuity.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Empathy is the critical trait for UX Professionals. To be able create usable products and enjoyable experiences, one must really be able to understand the pain points of the user and then design to address them.”

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Amritha Prasad

Amritha_Prasad_UX_2014

Amritha Prasad is a UX Designer at Uber and is extremely passionate about changing the way people perceive transportation and modern convenience.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Choose a workplace not just for the work that you will be doing, but for the individuals that you will be working with and learning from. Emulate and learn from those that are more experienced and always strive to find more efficient ways to solve a problem. Finding solid design mentorship early on in your career is the best possible thing that you can do.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Curiosity. Always be curious to find out more about your user. A UX designer should never stop asking questions until the real need is crystal clear.”

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Karina van Schaardenburg

Karina_van.schaardenburg_UX_2014 Karina van Schaardenburg, UX Research Lead at foursquare, has also had stints at Meetup andTwitter. Karina has spent her career in UX research learning about social behaviors online.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Spend more time with your problems than with your solutions. Understand the problems. Live them. Let them get under your skin and bother you. It’s so tempting to go straight to solutions, to squash the issues and move on. Avoid that urge. Solutions are better when they come from a place of deep understanding and that understanding takes time. There aren’t shortcuts.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Empathy towards everyone: users, collaborators, engineers, executives… Understand the reasons why people react the way they do, want the things they do and say the things they do. While empathy matters in all roles, fox UX professionals it’s crucial. While some people have a greater natural capacity for empathy than others, becoming great takes practice. It’s a skill like any other.”

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Anders Ramsay

Anders_Ramsay_UX_2014

Anders Ramsay is a veteran UX designer, independent consultant and member of the Rosenfeld Media experts group, specializing in helping organizations apply Agile and Lean methods to UX practice.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Be a maker from day one. Think about an app or product you’d love to design and start designing it, treating it like a real project. Create prototypes or mockups, or even build an actual app if you can, and then blog about it. Use the experience to educate yourself and build your portfolio. Nothing beats having actually made something, or designed something that was actually made, when looking for work.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“With every new twist and turn among rapidly evolving technologies comes new interaction and UX paradigms. Engineers are riding that constant wave of change. Therefore, an essential trait is being good at collaborating closely with engineers, and being able to iterate rapidly between design and development, to ensure that your design concepts remain current and aligned with rapidly evolving interaction paradigms.”

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Anna Pohlmeyer

Anna_Pohlmeyer_UX_2014Anna is assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Design at TU Delft and co-director of the Delft Institute of Positive Design, a research institute devoted to the study of design for human flourishing.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Design technology that has relevance for people. In order to understand what is relevant, you have to understand people. There are many valuable methods for a human-centered design approach – read, observe, listen, talk and immerse into the context. If you do not conduct user research yourself, make sure you understand the results of those who do. They are a vital source of inspiration and guidance.”


Terra Childs

Terra-ChildsTerra Childs is the Director of Client Services at Onward Search San Francisco and has almost a decade of recruiting experience in the user experience, marketing and engineering fields. She also has a hands-on education in UX and interaction design.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Pay attention to your portfolio – Even if you aren’t consistently updating it, have it in mind on every project you work on and gather pieces you may be able to use later on – images of sketches, journey mapping, whiteboards, etc. are great for showing your holistic thinking around products and experiences (which all the sought after companies and agencies are looking for now). Many times we keep the end result or the more complete wireframes and don’t think about showing the big picture or design thinking. Sites like squarespace make it easy to pull these pieces together and have a site with a nice visual aesthetic without building it from scratch.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“The ability to define the “why” behind your work for internal and external (if applicable) clients and your team in a concise and inspiring way. Also, the ability to be open to feedback from peers and users and make changes to your design that you may not agree with initially to make the final user experience better. “Great communication skills” is a blanket term we see all over job descriptions but they really are important in getting the best product or user experience out the door.”

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Sophia Voychehovski

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Sophia Voychehovski is a User Experience Designer and the founder of ReWired, an Experience Design studio based in Atlanta, GA. ReWired gives affordable UX and design services to non-profits, NGOs, social entrepreneurs and local tech start-ups.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“We shape technology, and technology shapes the world. So when it comes to deciding on your clients or employer, chose wisely. What do you care about and what do you want to help move forward? Aerospace? Healthcare? Human Rights? The organic food movement? Whatever it is, direct your UX skills there. Don’t waste your valuable intellectual capital on projects that you could not care less about. It might seem idealistic, but we have the the upper hand in the job market and the ability to move across industries. Take advantage.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“You need to love learning. We are in a field that is constantly evolving and transforming, and to do our job we need to stay informed. If we close the books for even a few months, our expertise will be outdated. So, if you don’t truly love learning, you should probably choose a more stable career path.”

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Andy Polaine

Andy_Polaine_UX_2014Andy Polaine is a service and interaction design consultant, writer and educator. He is co-author of the Rosenfeld Media book, Service Design: From Insight to Implementation.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Make sure that you apply your UX empathy in the client direction as well as to end users. It’s not easy being part of a large enterprise and trying to effect change. Understand what your client needs are, both professionally and personally, and you’ll have an easier time connecting.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“I come from a slightly different angle with a background in film & video, interaction design and, now, service design. I think the important trait is the ability to perceive systems and patterns and the invisible forces at play within them. These gaps between the obvious “things”–apps, websites, products–are often where the pain points are and thus where the solutions and opportunities are. Think beyond screens and interfaces and in terms of people and relationships. ”

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Chelsea Winkel

Chelsea_Winkel_UX_2014

Chelsea Winkel, Design Strategist at 29th Drive. A Tallwave and Ethology Company, is a problem solver with a decade of experience designing things for people that are easy to understand, use and adapt to.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Be an action taker and a rule breaker. Don’t be afraid to get out from behind the screen to create something new. Leave the office, get out and find real users to talk to and real experiences to build from.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Tenacity, sometimes you have to push hard and go against the grain of what organizations or stakeholders think they want in order to create better products or experiences. You will hit walls, when you hit them, bounce back, pivot and try another approach.”

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Jason Guggisberg

Jason-Guggisberg

Jason Guggisberg is a Regional Vice President that runs both the Chicago & Houston, TX Onward Search markets. Jason has been in the staffing industry for over 10 years and brings a unique style to both clients and candidates. Jason has staffed UX and Mobile teams for some of the largest companies and agencies in the country.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Don’t pin yourself to one piece of UX. Learn the research, wireframing, architecture. Companies are more and more looking for UX Professionals that are well rounded and have experience in all areas.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Flexibility: Be flexible about the type of work you’re doing and look to build a well-rounded portfolio. You’ll be able to snag more interesting projects and hopefully more money with more flexibility.”


Jen Walsh

Jen_Walsh_UX_2014

Jen Walsh is a Senior UX Designer at 29th Drive. A Tallwave and Ethology Company and a 15-year Internet veteran. Experienced in many roles of the application design process, she found her passion in User Experience.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“You have to be open and accepting of others’ ideas. It’s a hard muscle to flex at first because we all want to be the best. We all think we have the best solution, but if you listen openly to others and are willing to take in and build upon their ideas, as well as your own, that is when the magic happens. In the end, you should be able to look at the final solution that you created with your team and not be able remember whose ideas were whose. Collaboration is an awesome feeling. We conduct design studios with our team, and even with our clients, for this exact purpose. “

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“I think there are many things UX professionals need to be successful. I could go on and on, but being able to empathize with the end user is key. Without that skill we wouldn’t be able to design the right solutions to meet user’s needs. If you’re not meeting their needs then you’re not doing your job. Often, UX professionals that are unable to do this end up designing solutions for themselves, which can end in disaster. When we know the user and what they need, focusing on them gets easier and designing for ourselves gets harder.”

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Iran Narges

Iran_Narges_UX_2014

Iran Narges, a Designer at Adaptive Path, aspires to make things that are both useful and beautiful. She describes her work as clean, authentic, and purposeful. She has strong minimalist tendencies, with occasional outbursts of exuberance.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Culture matters. You are, among other things, a student of human nature – observe yourself and those around you. Pay attention to the dynamics. If you don’t like what you see, get out. You are far more likely to thrive, personally and professionally, in a workplace whose culture and values suit you.”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Tremendous curiosity; observation skills; emotional intelligence; the ability to be both open and skeptical; humility.”

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Ingrid Lindberg

Ingrid_Lindberg_UX_2014

Ingrid Lindberg is a proven senior change management and customer strategy leader who creates sustainable and extensible culture change geared towards customer centricity.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Never, ever give up. If you’re good at what you do, this is all just a giant game of whack-a-mole – keep trying and always #designforease and beauty!”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“The questioning sense of a two year old. Your best trait is always the ability to always ask “why?” or “why not?”

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Kate O’Connor

Kate-O'Connor

Kate O’Connor, Business Development Manager in Onward Search Boston, has helped build teams and match UX professionals within Fortune 500 companies, digital creative agencies and boutique firms throughout the country for over five years. Prior and in addition to recruiting, for the past nine years she has both freelanced and held full time positions as a hands-on Digital Designer and UX Developer within digital production studios and in-house agencies around Greater Boston and throughout the World.

What piece of career advice would you give to a UX professional?

“Be sure to have a strong professional portfolio displaying a variety of UX samples (ie: wireframes, use cases, flows). If you’re not able to show your work publicly due to NDAs, put together a case study or two (be sure to keep out sensitive info or specific details), but this can be a good way to show how you worked through an entire project. It also shows your process, which is very important for hiring managers to see. Whether you’re a UX professional looking for a new opportunity or not, it is always important to keep samples of your work in some form or another!”

What is one (or more) trait that a UX professional needs to be successful in today’s industry?

“Aside from a strong portfolio showcasing your UX skills… Strong problem solving skills are key. Keep in mind that there are several ways to look at a problem and also, of course, to solve it. A good UX professional should always be looking at a wide variety of possibilities. In order to do this you need to be good at requirements gathering in the initial project phase. Strong communication skills are also crucial. It is important to be able to articulate your process and how you came to a solution. Additionally, being able to present to clients is something that will help set you apart from other candidates and help bring you to a higher level in your UX career.”

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