UX in our shoes, by Jenny Lardh and Lucille Harvey

The Triad UX team is run by UX consultants, Jenny Lardh and Lucille Harvey. In this, the second of a series of UX blogs, Jenny and Lucille talk about all things UX: from why it is good to be wrong, to a typical day in UX.

How did you end up in UX?

Jenny: I was working as a Quality Assurance Engineer at a software company and was inspired by the work of their UX team. I became curious and used my downtime to study UX. The more I learned, the more I wanted to find out.  I was then fortunate to have got a break running my own project as the lead UX designer. I loved it.

Lucy: My psychology degree led me towards a few different paths: clinical research, clinical practice, Met police detective, none of which felt quite right.  I did an MSc in Human-Computer Interaction at UCL and was enchanted by this application of psychology to technology. That is where my love for UX began.

What is a typical day in UX like?

Lucy: Talking – and lots of it! (laughs). All the time. To everyone. Talking with users about their experiences, talking to stakeholders about the requirements, talking to business analysts about the design.  And talking to developers about technical details.

Jenny: That is so true. No day is ever the same. It is project and stage-dependent. The main constant is a daily “stand up” with the team to share progress and listen to ideas. Project kick-offs are often front-loaded with conducting interviews, transcribing notes, and reflecting on the insights gained.  Design days are often spent on my favourite design tool, “Axure” (it is a BEAST!), prototyping, to make it look like the real product. Some days include team or client workshops. And most days include client meetings, user interviews, desk research and thinking.

Lucy: Yes, it is easy to underestimate thinking time. Pondering over different concepts and figuring out how to best present them to the user. I think this is the part that colleagues can forget that we need to do. We don’t just know what the page is going to look like and how the flow is going to work. It’s a massive puzzle, and I spend a lot of time drawing in my sketchpad and crossing out. I can do this process many times before it’s right.

UX can be cyclical. What are your UX priorities right now?

Lucy: We are about to do our first stage of usability testing for a client product. I am really excited to see what we find. Weirdly, I’m excited to see where we got it wrong and where we can improve.

Jenny: I am working on three contrasting projects; a communication project for a government department where we are migrating over 10,000 users from one mobile provider to another, designing a new client intranet, and finally, researching the job search behaviour of highly technical people. This is so we can better understand how Triad can attract more candidates for technical roles.

Being wrong is part of the iterative process within UX. When was the last time you were wrong?

Lucy: I recently designed an icon that I thought was brilliant and intuitive. However, when showing it to a user, they didn’t know what it was and didn’t think they could click on it! I had to change the design…

Jenny: Something I learnt from an old colleague of mine, who is a product owner, is that if you ask people to tell you how something works, they just won’t for one reason or another. But if you tell them something that is obviously wrong, they are very happy to correct you. Either way, I get what I need. I use this a lot now, and it works.

What do you love about working in UX?

Jenny: Everything. The insight. The design. The ‘aha’ moment when something becomes clear. And the satisfaction from knowing that I have improved people’s lives.

Lucy: I know what you mean. I love the process: you research something, find out the problem and then solve it. It is really satisfying.

If you weren’t working in UX, what do you think you would be doing?

Lucy: I like problem-solving, so I’d probably go down the engineering route. Or I think I would be doing something completely different and find a way to travel the world full time.

Jenny: PT and nutritionist. Weightlifting is a big passion of mine.

The Triad UX blog series. Next up: Blog #3: ‘The UX challenge, and why it’s worth it’.

If you are interested in UX or have a question for the Triad UX team, then please get in touch.