Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Terika Seaborn-Brown: I am a UX researcher and consultant. I study how people interact with things (like websites, mobile phones, medical devices, video games) in order to make the experience as simple and intuitive as possible.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
TS: As a Principal, I sit in the middle of the organisation. I have the opportunity to mentor and work with seniors, middle-level, and junior researchers who report to me. I report to a Head and the Executive Director. As an agency it’s a great opportunity to learn from and work with people who have a wide breadth of skills.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
TS: At this level, my role requires me:
- to have deep, expansive knowledge and experience of UX research – the various methodologies, when they apply, the pitfalls to avoid
- to teach and manage UX researchers – not just in the execution of research but how to negotiate relationships with clients and people in other disciplines, to deliver and demonstrate value and speak with authority
- to lead multi-functional teams on complex projects
- to manage client relationships and help develop their UX maturity
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
TS: A mix! Meeting with project team members to discuss updates, helping to determine which researcher should be assigned to which project, reading up on the latest technique in the field, talking to clients about upcoming research, stepping in to support other project teams, and (today) answering questions about my role and my job.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
TS: UX research is really methodical people watching, and I love people watching. I think people are endlessly fascinating. I love it so much that I teach other people how to people watch.
Timesheets are what suck. I just want to work!
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
TS: My goals are two-fold:
- Making sure that things that people interact with are intuitive. There’re so many interesting and compelling topics to think about. Why spend effort figuring out how to turn your new mobile on?
- Constantly learning – both that I am always learning, but also that I am actively passing on that knowledge.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
TS: My best (and most useful) tools are my eyes and ears. If I can see what people are doing, then I can understand when things go wrong (even if they themselves don’t think anything is wrong). If I can hear their stream of thought, then I can understand why things go wrong.
E: How did you land in this role, and where might you go from here?
TS: I knew about Foolproof and had met Leslie, executive director of practice at Foolproof, a few times – I was so impressed with her passion and vision for the field, I knew I wanted to work with her. I’m hoping to continue to grow and expand my knowledge and teaching of the field.
E: What new user experiences are you most excited by? And which brands are making strides in UX?
TS: Honestly, the fields I’m most intrigued by tend to be the forgotten populations. For many companies, it’s actually their own employees that they forget about. EUX (employee user experience) is one of those fields that I think should explode. Once companies get wind of the improvements in retention, productivity, and employee feedback, it just makes sense that they would invest in the things their employees interact with every day.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in UX?
TS: If you love people-watching, if you have interest in making things that people actually enjoy using, if you like working in teams, join this field. It’s awesome.