Whenever I would tell someone I was a psychology major, I would get two questions:
- Can you read my mind?
- What are you going to do with a degree in psychology?
Although I still can’t read your mind, I can tell you what I am doing with my degree in psychology. I’m a UX/UI Designer and I can say that after researching how people think for 4 years in undergrad, I now use that knowledge to create solutions that address people’s problems.
Psychology is a popular degree. I chose it because it studies how people behave, and I’ve always been an observer. While helping people was of great interest to me, I never really saw myself becoming a psychologist or therapist.
Throughout my studies, I started to gravitate towards the classes related to experimental psychology. I was really interested in perception and cognitive psychology as opposed to clinical psychology. In my final semester, I took a class called human factors (AKA ergonomics) which is essentially the study of how humans interact with systems. I learned about designing based on people, their tasks, and their environments.
As soon as I began learning about UX (which is a field dedicated to designing digital products for people) I knew I found the career I wanted to pursue. I started reading books and blogs and listened to podcasts. There is so much information out there and I was devouring it as fast as I could.
At the time, I was still working full-time as a receptionist at a law firm and I decided the best way to make the switch into the field of UX/UI design would be to focus full time on improving my knowledge of design and getting some hands-on experience.
UX research observes behavior in order to determine peoples needs and frustrations. A UX Designer’s job is to make their user’s job or task easier. This is accomplished by researching enough to have a thorough understanding (and empathy) of the user’s problem.
Some people think of design as creating an experience in order to convince someone to do something. But that’s not what good design is. Good design is creating something that simplifies a task but the only way to do that is by really understanding the individual using the product.
A UX Designer uses observations and empathy to make design decisions.
While studying psychology, I learned that there are different motivations for actions. As a UX designer working on a client’s website, I may notice a lot of people are clicking on the site…but leave quickly. It is my job to understand why. Are they confused, bored, or is it something else?
Through all my research of the UX industry, it became apparent to me that I would need further education to break into the field. There were three options: get a Masters Degree, do online UX courses, or attend an in-person UX bootcamp. Not wanting to spend the time and money it would take to complete a Masters, and believing I would learn better in-person than online, I chose the bootcamp scenario.
I decided to study at Ironhack in Miami because their curriculum gave me the experience to build 4 hands-on projects. Other bootcamps had fewer projects built into their curriculum, which would be less experience (and portfolio material) for me in the end. Attending Ironhack has allowed me to interact with other UX professionals in the tech scene in South Florida, compete in competitions where I took first place with one of my former classmates, and by far the best thing that came out of Ironhack was being able to connect with my current employer, Very Big Things.
When I first interviewed for Very Big Things it was evident that they were interested in my psychology background. Having been in the industry for years, they understood the importance of creating products with the user in mind. They approach all their challenges with User Experience at the forefront, and they made it clear that there is a great value in being able to “step into our user’s shoes,” to be able to truly solve their problems.
If you are currently studying psychology, already have your degree, or you are interested in psychology in general, I really recommend looking into UX/UI design. I love UX/UI for many of the same reasons I love psychology, it allows me to help people through research and empathy.
I’ll actually speaking about my experiences this week at Ironhack Miami’s campus. Come join us if you want to meet in person and you have any questions! RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-ux-design-for-psychologists-and-others-too-tickets-48694806477