TIM BRIDGHAM, UX RESEARCHER

Roughly three years ago I launched this site and began my pursuit of a career in User Experience. During this time I spoke with numerous friends, colleagues, classmates, teachers, and acquaintances who all shared their time and advice in support of my goal. I shifted my focus on becoming a UX Researcher instead of a UX Designer. At my job, I was able to contribute my skills to more client-focused projects, learning a great deal along the way. And with each project my involvement focused more and more on UX research to where I was moderating usability sessions and collaborating on reporting. During this time I completed the User-Centered Design Certificate from the University of Washington learning from amazing UX professionals and working with driven and talented classmates to do some fun and engaging work. And throughout this entire journey, I had the incredible support from my wife who has lovingly encouraged me and has made numerous sacrifices to help me achieve my goal.

Today I officially became a UX Researcher at Blink UX and I am incredibly excited for what’s to come.

 Geoff Harrison, Head of UX Services & Partner, announcing my new title. Cheers!

Geoff Harrison, Head of UX Services & Partner, announcing my new title. Cheers!

So thank you to Beth and Karen, Kelly, Kristina, Mark, Tom, John, Geoff, Brigitt, Randy, Skip, Layne, Jonathan, Jake, Louise, Nasahn, Sarah, Julie, Stephanie, Allan, Nick L, Piper, Roxane, Siri, Byron, Greg, Ankitha, Tristan, Darshana, Katie, Jill, Leili, Laura, Rebecca, Justin, Telle, Jenna, Ellis, Hayley, Nick W, Colin, Chris, Caitlin, Lu, Mom & Dad. To all of you, and the others - too numerous to mention, thank you for all that you have done to get me here. Without you this would not have been possible.

And my pursuit is not over. I’ll be striving to learn more, to continue to grow, and to become a better UX Researcher with each project I take on. In addition to continuing to share my journey, I’d also love to share others’ unique UX stories - all with the hope of helping the next person on their pursuit of a career in User Experience.

EDUCATION: USER-CENTERED DESIGN GRADUATE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

I have benefited tremendously from working with amazing people at Blink UX; they bring passion to their work, exude empathy, and deliver creative and excellent work to our clients. As I’ve mentioned in the past, they have inspired me to grow and pursue a career in UX research. 

During my time at Blink UX, I have assisted on numerous projects including several prototype usability studies, field research projects, a data analysis and survey study, a microenthnographic in-home study, a retail intercepts study, and most recently, an application usability study and an unboxing + mobile app usability study (where I moderated seven sessions, created video clips, and assisted with the initial and final reports for both). I have even constructed a large-scale physical prototype to aid with testing. Also, I have been frequently sought out to create video clips in support of final deliverables. 

 The large-scale prototype I constructed to support research. Read more about the benefits of recreating physical products in the lab  here . 

The large-scale prototype I constructed to support research. Read more about the benefits of recreating physical products in the lab here

These experiences have all been opportunities that have come organically to me over the past few years. On a few occasions I was involved from start to finish but most often I was brought in to support a specific piece of a project. Because of this I have obtained many ‘dots’ of knowledge spanning user experience work so I have chosen to connect those dots through formal education in the University of Washington’s User-Centered Design Certificate program.

In this program I will devote time to learning and going through the entire user-centered design process as well as focusing in specifically on usability testing. I view this UCD certificate program as another opportunity to surround myself with other successful UX leaders, be they students, faculty, or guest lecturers. I am confident the UCD certificate will give me the academic grounding, in conjunction with all my experiences and passions, to excel in a UX research career.

*Photo for by Mark Gsellman.

THE RIGHT PATH FOR ME

As I mentioned in the very first post, just over two years ago, realizing what I want to do (for a career) hasn’t been the most straightforward process and definitely hasn’t followed the most common path. But around three years ago I understood where I wanted to go and I started down the path to reach my goal: a career in User Experience. (You can read more about my background here and here.)
    
To get to my goal I knew that it was important to first finish my undergraduate degree. I also knew that in order to move into a lifelong, valuable, and enriching career in UX I would need to do extracurricular training in user experience practices.

In April of 2015 I began the task of completing my undergraduate degree though Washington State University’s Online Bachelor's Degrees program. WSU afforded me the opportunity to take courses around my full-time work schedule and offered coursework that I could shape to enhance my pursuit of a UX career while completing my degree. 

So, I began pursuing a Social Sciences degree with an emphasis in Administrative Studies, Communication, and Psychology. As I suspected, I was able to tailor my coursework (particularly in the communications and psychology emphases) in a way that has contributed to my goal of a UX career. For example, in one communication course I learned content creation in several mediums that have aided my reporting skills. Additionally, several of my psychology courses gave me insights on how to design, conduct, and report on research studies, which are a key part of the work I hope to someday do. 

On May 6th, 2017, I completed my first step and graduated, magna cum laude, from Washington State University. I heard my name called, walk across the stage, and received my diploma with a great sense of self pride and accomplishment. (I would be remiss not to mention my amazing wife, Beth, who has been a huge support to me while working full-time and going to school. Thanks Beth!)

With my degree completed I will be focusing on user experience practices to grow the skills I have and to learn new ones. In fact, I have started to shift into a user experience research role at my company. This summer I’m scheduled to be an assistant researcher on several projects. 

My path hasn’t been the most common one but it has been the right path for me and I’m excited for the next step in my UX pursuit.

EMPATHY: A CORE VALUE

As I gain more knowledge and experience in the field of user experience several values have emerged as the core values that I want to epitomize and demonstrate when I practice UX research and design. The first of these is EMPATHY.

Stanford’s d.school is a prominent leader in the design thinking process. They use design thinking as a powerful tool (or methodology) in the user experience research and design field. They believe that empathy is the centerpiece for creating great user experiences. “To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your users and care about their lives.”

I have seen this first hand and agree that empathy is extremely valuable in creating meaningful innovations or experiences. Over the past three years I have assisted UX researchers running usability sessions both in our office and out in the field. In this time I’ve sought to understand all that they must do while running these sessions. They are responsible for taking notes on participants’ words and actions, occasionally communicating with clients or team members in the middle of the session, and navigating some challenging technical equipment, all while cordially leading participants through the session. In observing this I understand that if I can lighten their load in any way I can help them to focus on running great sessions which in turn helps us discover great insights into the problems we are trying to solve. Because of this I’ve designed our labs and our field equipment to be as easy to use as possible while still delivering quality videos. I do whatever is necessary so that the technology used during sessions becomes invisible to the researchers.

As I’ve talked about in the past, empathy is a crucial part of creating great experiences. In truly caring about your users not only do you better understand their needs and desires but you also build meaningful (and often lasting) relationships.

TRAINING: A CONVERSATION WITH JAKE FLEISHER

“Good user experience: great. Bad user experience: frustration."

  Jake Fleisher, Principal UX Researcher at Blink UX

Jake Fleisher, Principal UX Researcher at Blink UX

Jake Fleisher has had a somewhat unique path to get to where he is today. Similarly to me, Jake had passions, interests, and skills in areas that he thought couldn’t all be utilized together. That changed when he discovered industrial design. On Jake’s journey he discovered the important activities that go into industrial design (aka product development), like “research and assuming a user-centered standpoint.” Now Jake is a Principal UX Researcher at Blink UX where he utilizes his talents to deliver insightful and compelling work.

I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with Jake on several projects. He exemplifies passion, curiosity, and a drive to make user experiences great. He has also been a great contributor to my UX training. I sat down with Jake and he shared a great example of some of the work he’s done in the past.

If you’d like to read more about Jake and his eclectic set of skills and passions head of over here.

 

*Photo for audio piece by Mark Gsellman.

A LONG OVERDUE UPDATE

It’s been some time since my last post so I want to take a moment to share a quick update.

This summer and fall have been jam-packed with so much good stuff. As a part of completing my degree, I took two courses this summer and I’m in the thick of it right now with a Social Psychology and a Social Research course. This puts me on track to graduate in May of 2017! At my job I was an assistant researcher on a physical prototype usability study. I’m working on writing more about this but some of the highlights were that I wrote the participant screener and session guide for the study, handled many project management tasks, moderated one of the sessions, and co-wrote the project topline report and final report. I learned so much and I’m excited to share more soon.

Also, I made some subtle but nice changes to my logo. [I guess the corporate branding website, Brand New has been rubbing off on me.]

Lastly, please check back soon. More posts coming including another audio interview piece.