(Part one is here)

I don’t hate interviews.

Infact, I really enjoy them. Not because – as a friend boasted recently – I get every single one I go for, but because I enjoy finding out how a company works, what the people are like, etc etc. I always consider them an opportunity, and it’s as much up to me whether I feel I would enjoy the role, as much as they think they would like me.

I once had a 4 hour interview for a usability role in a very famous online poker company, it followed two 1 hour-long telephone interviews. I was introduced to everyone, they fed me (crocodile was on the menu; I didn’t have it), I did some tests (same one twice as I was given the wrong instructions the first time), I was asked the same questions twice (the woman who interviewed me didn’t take a single note on paper), and given the guided tour of a very “Google-esque” office.

It was incredibly draining and intimidating, and I couldn’t wait to be out of there. I was glad when I found out they had hired someone who had more experience than me. It was the only role I had gone for where they didn’t say that they thought “I would be bored.” Had I gone for the interview now, I would be upset that they hadn’t hired me, but at the time, it was too much for me.

So I learnt a lot from that experience, particularly when the recruiter never called me back to inform me I hadn’t got the position, and I had to call the woman who interviewed me directly.

I could write an entire blog on recruiters, I could also write a 3 part blog on that particular interview… maybe another time.

When I secured myself an interview in the 70-mile-away alley, I was excited. I knew things were coming to an end at my current position so I didn’t feel bad. We discussed Facebook, we discussed Twitter, we discussed my thesis about gender-bending. Luckily enough, I had done my research on who would be interviewing me, so I was able to ask educated questions about one of the interviewers research into affective-computing. We also brushed onto user experience topics, like user journeys, use cases, wireframes, sitemaps, card-sorting etc.

I knew about it all, but I had never really done a lot of it.

My current job had never bothered with any user experience, and only designed designs from 9 years ago, thinking they would still be in fashion today. This new company based in Poole, were ahead of the curve even, dealing with brand-new design concepts, and constantly striving to be on top of the latest techniques in design, marketing and usability. They were a London agency, only in Poole, Dorset, and beside the sea.

At the end of the interview, I was shown around the building, and then sent on my way. Things were promising when the recruiter reported back to me. I remember walking along the harbour after my first interview, and being able to see the Isle of Wight in the distance, I just knew I had to be here.

They offered me the job, and the 4 hour daily commute didn’t even deter my positive response.

I literally high-tailed it from my previous job, never had I been so glad that I was moving on. No more abuse. I would work somewhere where I would be respected. My work would actually get to be discussed without being repeatedly slapped down at the first hurdle.

I didn’t exactly slip right into the job, I certainly didn’t take to it like a fish to water, it took a few weeks for me to find my feet and understand the way in which things are done. It was scary and intimidating for my first few tasks. Due to how I had been treated in my last job, I was terrified of getting something wrong, and was extremely defensive whenever anyone questioned me. It took me 3 months to get out of that habit. It still happens every now and again.   I’m dealing with some amazing clients, and some incredibly talented people around me, as well as trying to keep my head above water.

The 4 hour commute wasn’t easy, it was a real killer. I didn’t get home till 10pm some nights, and I would be up at 6am the next day to go back into work. I felt like a zombie some days, and it was very difficult some days to complete work which was presentable. This was the career I wanted, so I was going to stick at it. My skills are random – which is what previous employers have struggled with. My new job also struggled a little too, they wanted to know where I fit into the company, and they are pushing me towards Information Architecture. Seems to be something which I can work at.

I have learnt that usability is definitely not the same when you’re out in the Real World.

It’s far more difficult, with a huge amount of random considerations that need to be accounted for. Clients have different needs, as well as different budgets, and that all needs to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to include a “use case” and how many “personas” need to be composed in order to fully represent the audience.

I’m not sure whether this is what I expected it to be, but I do know I am actually enjoying my role. My first job role to really enjoy, it’s challenging but doable, and I’m responsible for my own work as well as having other people to refer to. It also helps that my 4 hour daily commute has finished, and I’m now living 5 minutes away from work, so I actually have a life now.

So, what is a User Experience Designer?

In my case, a User Experience Designer designs the most optimal experience for users when navigating through a website.

What do I do?

I create (not necessarily in this order) personas, user journeys, concept maps (we call ontology diagrams), sitemaps, use cases, wireframes, interaction-pattern documents, and potentially a whole lot more. I am also involved in usability testing.

userlifexperience

I enjoy it because I’m easily bored, and so quickly distracted. There’s something new all the time, something challenging too. When I look back on my previous job in particular, it makes me embarrassed that a company like that still exists in this day and age, and that I worked for them! If I felt I wouldn’t be sued, I would post the name of the company up on this website, but to be careful I’ll keep quiet for now.

I’m still young-ish and I’ll experience miles more in my job-filled lifetime, and I’ll blog about those too.

I’m still working out my own life experience, and I have much more to do 🙂

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Fail!

May 1, 2009

Saw this in a shop in Poole – you can get a £5 reward if the shop attendent doesn’t give you your receipt.

Just make sure you keep your receipt as that’s the only way you can claim your reward… FAIL

WordPress iPhone app

March 5, 2009

What a wonderfully usable iPhone app that wordpress have managed to roll out.

I literally signed in about 60secs ago and I’m already writing a blog entry. This is how all applications should be- easy to interact with and minimum fuss and details.

As I have learned recently media ultimately needs to be engaging and wordpress app is a great example of that. When you’re on the go, it’s ideal for making quick blog posts which of course you can add to later if needs be!

Thesis update:
Thanks to everyone who took part again, I’m currently looking at all my results and I will report back in a few weeks about it!

Congratulations to t-girl85 who won the €50 amazon voucher!

Moli

So when I was working back in Dublin, I was working in a building called the Digital Hub, which housed many small, new media companies. Web design, production, film, radio, etc etc, and in amongst all these companies is one particular small company called Moli.

Moli is a social networking site for the smart person – you have one account, but you can have different profiles. So, if you are a Jack-of-all-Trades, like myself, this is a great and clever innovation. On mine, for example, I can have one main profile for me, as a person! Then I can also have a profile advertising my music, which I have also managed to set up a shop on, so people can actually purchase tracks! Then lastly, I have a profile promoting my freelance web design.

So, if I am speaking to different people about different things – for example Louis Walsh about my music – I can give him the link to my music site. If I am speaking to Google about usability and web design, I can give them a link to my web design profile!

In reality, I’m not really going to speak to those people, but you can see the benefits of having mulitple profiles in one account. It takes away the unnecessary need for multiple different social networking sites all because they provide different functions, Moli provides pretty much most, if not everything, that the majority of other social networking sites provide and more, and with everything all accessible in one account, you can’t really go wrong!!

Check it out!! It’s my tip of the summer 🙂

Msc Cyberpsychology

June 12, 2008

The MSc in Cyberpsychology is an innovative psychology programme. It aims to provide graduates with an in-depth understanding of how humans interact with technology and in an online environment.

IADT provides this MSc which has had a very successful first year – currently 16 students are taking the course part time over two years, and more applications have been accepted for the 2008 entry.

Modules studied in first year: Human Computer Interaction, Computer Mediated Communication, Social Psychology of the Internet, Internet Research Methods, Consumer Cyberpsychology.

Second year will provide further innovative subjects such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Environments, as well as Applied Cyberpsychology and a major research project.

The course provides ways that a student can apply psychological theories to what is currently happening on the internet between individuals in online environments, how technology is affecting the way we think, and how technology is changing how we live.

This unique MSc is the first of it’s kind, and therefore IADT is currently at the forefront of the field. Interested applicants should contact Grainne Kirwan at IADT.