What is my M? My M is simple: Understanding. It means comprehending what makes you or your business unique and authentic, and knowing how to consciously and effectively express that. My M also means being aware of your customer or user’s needs, because despite what you like, serving their interests will benefit you in the long-run. That is essentially what User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) is based from – complete understanding of your business, industry, and audience.
How did I get into marketing?
I’m originally from Georgia and I left home in 1997 to join the Navy. I was Naval Hospital Corpsman, a position often referred to as a “medic on steroids.” My job taught me how to deal with people and stressful situations, as I was constantly around people who were badly hurt or near death. My experience in Navy taught me how to understand and hone in my emotions, and how to help others deal with theirs during stressful times. Needless to say, I learned a lot and gained invaluable life experience through my time in the Navy.
After a tour in Iraq, I decided to get out of the military. I worked at the VA hospital for about five years and decided to go back to school. I was a computer engineering student up until my senior year. Eventually, I realized I just wasn’t passionate about the computer science field as it lacked the element of human connection. I was more interested in people and how they interacted with technology. This is what led me to UX and UI.
I graduated from the University of Washington-Tacoma with a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Currently, I’m pursuing my MS degree from Kent State University in Information Architecture and User Experience Design.
How do I use my M outside of work?
My M inspires me to get out and try new things – even if they are completely out of my comfort zone. I love to learn and try to understand the world around me, and hope to pass on my endless curiosity to my two daughters. I believe figuring out who you are is a continual process. Trying new things is a way to discover and understand more about yourself.
What inspired you to learn UX design?
My lifelong love for technology and gadgets initially led me to engineering, I would always wonder why electronics and products looked the way they did and how those key design decisions were made. Take the iPod for example. Apple’s minimal and revolutionary portable music player design had a major influence on the UX/UI in the tech industry, not to mention transforming how we understand consumer electronics. I also enjoyed learning about people, how we think, and why we do the things we do. Once I decided to change my major, I wanted to find something that merged the two. This is how I stumbled upon UX.
Why is it important for small businesses to incorporate UX in their website?
This is simple: If your business is not thinking about its customers or users, then they won’t think about you. UX is about putting your audience at the center of all that you do – whether its through your website, branding material, content, etc. I’m happy to get on a pedestal and argue that UX is the future of design and web development. For 2017, businesses of all sizes should start integrating UX practices as a part of their marketing efforts. With time, UX will undoubtedly produce a return on investment for your business and establish a steady foundation for your brand.