It’s interesting to look back on how I decided to go with user experience design as a career, rather than engineering, which I had been studying for years.
One important factor that got me inspired was a website called baddesigns.com, used as a reference material in one of my classes. As the website name indicates, it captures a world of bad and ridiculous designs: coffee machines, road signs, gas pumps. I was surprised that I didn’t pay much attention to bad designs like that in my life. Instead, many times when I used something inconvenient and hard to use, I simply accepted it and let the item waste my time by trying to work around it.
I wanted to change that. I got a bunch of books on the “design” topic, like Don’t Make Me Think, The Design of Everyday Things, Communicating Design, started learning on my own, at the time right before my last school year. Then, I got more and more serious of doing this thing, so I got internships and projects on it.
I developed a quirky habit: take pictures on bad and good experiences around me and blog about them. I’ve captured dining experiences, road signs, kettles, hand mixers, even McDonald’s wraps. If you see me taking pictures at buttons inside an elevator, there must be some reason ;)
I was lucky that when I started my career, my first full-time job was a user experience designer, on redesigning the company’s web platform. Being a sole user experience with a little experience on such a huge project was terribly challenging, but I was able to nail it. So proud. At that time, I was kind of walking in the dark, with no design mentorship, trying to form my own design process. Lots of trials and errors, and of course funny moments.
I have quite a few friends with similar experiences when they transitioned to user experience design, but glad things finally worked out. For a self-made designer, or any position, what’s most crucial is the willingness to learn. If you’re willing to learn, you’ll find opportunities to learn, from people, books, projects, events. You’ll always keep an eye on those opportunities. You’ll snatch them when they show up. You’ll go for more of them.
I’ve been loving what I do, and feeling grateful that my work makes user experience more enjoyable. It’s been a great journey and I hope after a few more years, I’ll be able to happily connect more dots on this topic.