This Is How I Became An UX Designer

Careers | 04th September 2017

Mônica Dioconde is our User Experience Leader and we asked her about why she choosed to be an "UXer" and how she did to embrace her career.

I prefer to call myself a User Experience Specialist.
Mônica Dioconde

1. How did you get into UX Design?

Mônica Dioconde: Well, it was kind of funny, I was in a graphic design college and in my second year I had my first class about ergonomics and web design. I instantly fell in love! I realised that I didn’t want to create books or boxes, what I really wanted was to “design interfaces and experiences”. My first job was on an Ecommerce website, and there, I had the opportunity to be part of a project since its beginning - the planning process, until the end - the implementation. While I was in my last year of college I had a job in the financial market and was at that position that I met my mentor, he was fantastic! I learned more from him in six months than in 3 years of college. To cut a long story short, this is how I became a UX Designer.

Mônica Dioconde - Interview
Mônica Dioconde being interviewed.

2. What does it mean to be a great UX designer?

Mônica Dioconde: There is not an agreement amongst the UX world but, I prefer to call myself a User Experience Specialist rather than User Experience Designer. User Experience is about the entire environment around a user's relationship with a service/product, not just the small part that a digital interface represents. For example, when you have a bank account, the internet banking is not the only experience you have with your bank, you have many others channels, so your overall experience involves how does the ATMs work, how is your relation with your account manager, and so on. The sum of all these different interactions with your bank will represent your whole experience

So what makes you a great UX, in my opinion, is to understand the entire environment and make your best to offer the perfect balance between business and user's needs when designing an interface.

3. What are the biggest challenge you face as a UX Designer?

Mônica Dioconde: There are two significant barriers that we sometimes have to surpass. First of all, the right balance between user’s needs and the business goals is kind of hard to understand without knowing the users. Several times I've had to persuade my client to agree on researching so that we could get the user's needs. I believe that this research phase is critical because the most successful projects are the ones that answer to user’s needs and don't have their focus only on profit isolated. Summing it up, we need to make it clear that a proper research is not a waste of time or money, in fact, it ends up saving money and being more efficient after all.

The second obstacle is a bit more personal. Are you a big football fan? Well if you are, can you imagine to design a cool interface for your worst rival's team? It can be hard if you have to be part of projects that are not aligned with your beliefs, but you have to do them anyway!

4. Who in the industry do you follow?

Mônica Dioconde: I love the, they receive articles from all around the world so it's a really great place to understand how the design market is evolving and to learn more about design. The IXDA is a great association, and I want to highlight their local groups, get into one if it is available in your region. When I was in Brazil I learned a lot from them, because you can share ideas, ask questions and learn from your colleagues' experiences! Last but not least, I'd recommend the Interaction Design Foundation as well. They have some relevant content and events where you can acquire a lot of knowledge. I'm telling you this from experience, I've been to a lot of events.

Mônica Dioconde - UX Designer - Being Interviewed
Mônica Dioconde often participate in events of the UX area.

5. When you are first approaching a project what are some common mistakes to avoid?

Mônica Dioconde: Please avoid to forget about the user! Sometimes it happens, due to time restrictions or a client who 's hard to deal. In those scenarios, it’s easy to end-up forgetting about the main reason why we are involved in the project at first. So please, remember to keep the users in mind all the time.

6. What was your favourite project to work in?

Mônica Dioconde: I love to work with research! I think my favourite project until today, was my last project in Brazil. I was working in a newspaper, and they wanted to change their whole digital experience. It´s obvious that you cannot proceed with a change of that proportion without a proper research and market analysis. I was the lead researcher on this project and we interviewed around 18 people and showed them this new proposal with some tasks to be done on this new interface to get the data needed. After analysing the information gathered, we realised that most of the interviewees were a bit too sceptic about this new proposal. So we realised that these changes weren’t good enough for the company to carry on with the project. If the company decided to do the “update” without proper research, they would have wasted a lot of money, because, as it proved after the interviews, the change wasn't either needed or wanted.

7. What would be your advice to a student, just like you, who is trying to become a UX Designer?

Well,​ if you want to be a great UX designer you have to be prepared for your idea to be rejected!

Mônica Dioconde: Well, I love my job! But I have to recognise that the path to be a good UX Designer is not just flowers and rainbows. What would be my advice? Well, if you want to be a great UX designer you have to be prepared for your idea to be rejected! Rejection is one of the most important parts of this profession you have to understand why you were rejected and how can you improve your project due to that. Other good advice is never to be too attached to anything because each project is a different universe, and you have to be able to adapt yourself to each one. Once you are not attached to something, you'll not take the critics for personal and will use the feedbacks (positive or negative) as a way to improve the project and offer a better product in the end.

Did you like reading this interview? You can read here Mônica's articles about User Experience.

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