I recently had the chance to speak to two groups of young women who are thinking about their professional development and career aspirations. I was explaining to them that the field of UX didn’t exist when I was in graduate school. (Although many of the disciplines which make up UX have existed for many years, the field was named by Don Norman in 1993.) That meant that my career was taking shape as the field emerged. It has been an exciting journey over the last fifteen years.
I do have another page of this site called Work in UX, where I discuss my current work in more detail. In addition to that, I have a new focus area that I want to mention here:
The User Experience consulting team that I lead does a significant amount of work in dashboard design and data visualization, mostly using commercial Business Intelligence tools such as Microstrategy, Tableau, and QlikView. In order to deliver the best possible outcomes to our clients, everyone in the UX team (myself included) has had to deepen our understanding of data visualization best practices.
I was recently asked to co-author a book about user research methods, targeted at the IEEE VIS community. This is a fascinating space – and one that significantly overlaps with my current work responsibilities – so I am looking forward to the challenge.
The goal of our book is to help the VIS community of computer and data scientists better understand the users they are enabling with their technology and visualizations. Many of these individuals have had some exposure to the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), but there is a growing awareness they need to get past efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction as success measures for the solutions they are building, and most of them don’t have the skills to do so today.
Part of what is compelling to me about this topic is that there is an element of interdisciplinary collaboration required here too. There are some individuals working alone (where they have expertise in computer science and visualization), and they have to collaborate effectively with domain experts such as biologists or security analysts. And then there are large teams (at the National Labs, for example) which parallel what I’m experiencing in industry – a team comprised of one or more computer scientists, data scientists, user experience professionals, and domain experts working together on complex technical and visualization challenges.
My co-author and I are currently working on our prospectus, and one of the things that we’re seeing is that most books about research methods are focused on the web or on the consumer space. I am looking forward to helping our scientific and very technical audience learn about the practical application of UX research methods for their highly complex data visualization work. I’m confident the inevitable learnings that come with research and writing a book will help me in my own work as well.