How did you know you wanted to work in design/research/etc.
I have always been interested in research, but I got into it a lot more during my undergrad at Beijing Normal University in China. I majored in Applied Psychology and focused on the research track instead of the clinical track for this major. Afterwards I wanted experience working in America where I knew the field was more mature. I attended Columbia University in New York where I received my Masters in Developmental Psychology. During my time in New York, I met a UX Designer and was introduced to the world of user experience research. I was very drawn to this idea of tying user experience to my love of research. I also saw how user experience is tied to everyday life, enabling you to help people from different walks of life, to solve different types of problems, or to have an impact on the product you are performing research on.
After my Master’s program, I decided to take a course in user experience design at General Assembly to learn more about the designer’s perspective. During this time, I began to put together a portfolio of research projects in user experience to showcase my passion and capabilities in this area.
Tell us about your career journey and what brought you to EchoUser
I initially came across a posting on a job board, and was attracted to EchoUser for multiple reasons. I was really attracted to the fact that they have a research team, which is great to be able to bounce ideas off of a team versus the solidarity of solo research work. I also liked the fact that EchoUser is an agency, and that this would give me an opportunity as someone who is very fresh to the field, to be able to be apart of the large breadth of client projects and gain experience in all these different areas. Another aspect I was drawn to was seeing the company culture and dynamic on EchoUsers’ various social media channels. It seemed like the employees were genuinely nice people who also knew how to have fun and be friends, which is what I was looking for in my next job.
What do you like about doing UX Research?
I love working with data. I really enjoy the process of taking qualitative and quantitative data to solve different problems, and logically planning it out along the way. As opposed to clinical research, where I dipped my toes into a bit during my college years, UX research allows you to change the lives of people in their everyday lives. I like to learn about what makes them frustrated or what makes them happy, and to see the results come out of this interaction to improve their experience.
What is your process in interpreting what users want?
Rule of thumb: Don’t listen to users about what they want. Self-reported claims are not necessarily reliable especially when asking about future behavior prediction. It’s more important to observe what users do: observe their path when performing a task, observe obstacles along the way, and observe how they recover from mistakes.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy hiking and camping with two my dogs, baking desserts (matcha mille-crêpes are my favorite), swimming, traveling (I have driven the Pacific Coast Highway (SF-LA) 6 times!), as well as playing board games with friends.
What are some fun facts that not everyone knows about you?
- My coffee name is “Bella.” My name can be difficult for baristas to spell correctly on the first try, so I’ve found this is strategy much simpler. I’m also not the only one at EchoUser who does this!
- I always buy mini-sized soda to try and control my sugar intake, but I usually end up drinking multiple mini sodas because one is never enough…
- I successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign with friends!