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!

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.

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.

EDUCATION: CREATING A LOGO

 UX Pursuit Logo

UX Pursuit Logo

For the next unit in my communications course our goal was to design a logo that illustrates and brands our topic, or in my case, this site. In setting out to create my logo I knew I wanted simple lines, minimal colors, and basic shapes. I also knew I wanted to try to express two main ideas.

The first is the idea of ‘finding my way’ or a sense of pursuit toward a user experience career. The second idea was to express a sense of the broad spectrum that is user experience. Lately, as I mentioned in a recent post,  in my pursuit of a UX career I’ve discovered UX involves more than just web/mobile design. It “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products”. Again, the spectrum graphic developed by Information Architects, Inc. does a great job of illustrating the wide scope of user experience and served as some inspiration for my logo.

Draft:

In my first draft, for the pursuit theme, I tried to find a symbol that meant searching and the symbol that made the most sense was a magnifying glass. Following the simple lines motif I created a simple magnifying glass. I didn’t want the object to be too literal. I wanted a simple outline or something similar to the figure/ground technique. To try to convey the overlapping and broad spectrum of user experience I played with overlapping circles and colors.

Combining the two I wanted to achieve a sense that the magnifying glass is finding UX among the many colors. This is the same sense that I was trying to convey in my graphic collage. To make the logo pop a bit I added the blend technique to the magnifying glass and gave the three circles a drop shadow effect. Additionally I played with rotating the the circles and magnifying glass about thirty degrees to give some visual interest.

 First draft.

First draft.

After I completed my first draft I was pretty pleased with the design.

Feedback:

After reviewing feedback I received from my classmate and taking a second look at my logo a few things stood out that I knew I needed to address. The first was simplifying the logo. The shading effect I tried to create and the drop shadow on the circles needed to be removed. Additionally, I saw that the logo need more of an enclosed feel. The first draft felt like it could all just wash away.

Revisions and Tweaks:

The first step I took to refine the logo was enclosing my it inside a hexagon shape and removing the shading and shadows. I still felt like circles of colors seemed disjointed or floating. I attempted to add a 4th circle but still wasn’t happy with what I had. I kept coming back to the ‘spectrum of ux’ graphic and some of the enclosed colors stood out to me. I decided to divide up the hexagon shape into equal pie like slices and I colored them in with the colors that inspired me from the graphic. At this point it was clear that I was on the right track. One final tweak of shifting the center of the ‘pie shapes’ to the center of the magnifying glass and it was perfect. Lastly I added in the letters ‘UX’ inside the magnifying glass and my logo was done.

In creating my logo I was very happy to see the progress I had gone through to get the final result that I did. I enjoyed ideation process of creating, assessing, tweaking, and then repeating those steps as many times as necessary. Since I developed the main logo I’ve gone back I played around with an alternative letter logo that I can use in other ways. At first I copied the magnifying glass shape out of the main logo and tweaked it to replace the “P” in pursuit. Again, after I stepped back, assessed the design, and got great feedback from my wife I adjusted the my original idea (we realized the magnifying glass looked more like a “q” then a “p”).

 Alternative letter logo.

Alternative letter logo.

Here’s a look at my process from start to finish.

I'd love to hear your feedback on the logos I made. Please let me know what you think. Thanks

EDUCATION: NARRATIVE GRAPHIC COLLAGE

As I mentioned in a previous post, this semester I’m taking a few classes to work toward completing my degree. One of the two courses I’m taking this semester is Multimedia Content Creation which centers around storytelling design principles as well as digital media design and production skills.

For our first project we dove into Photoshop and our goal was to create a narrative graphic collage. Mine would focus on telling the story of my UX pursuit.

I wanted to try to capture how I feel part of me is focusing on completing my schooling and the other part of me is always looking for ways to focus on UX training. To me, this idea closely follows the left brain and right brain analogy where the left brain is more regimented and the right is more creative.

Layered below the main R + L image and the icons are several photos. At the bottom is a photo a friend took (and gave me permission to use) of an art exhibit in Italy. It is numerous, numerous strings strung from floor to ceiling with keys attached throughout. Above that is an photo I captured of a colleague sketching out a timeline of one of his research projects on a frosted glass wall. Last, is an image I took of a rock climbing wall with numerous handholds. The wall also has a pattern running horizontally across it that resembles a topographical map. With all these base images I’m trying to evoke a journey feeling, one that sometimes looks like a complicated mess and one that sometimes looks more simple with clear steps (or handholds) along the way. Above the right brain I have placed icons and symbols that depict schooling and above the left brain I’ve showcased icons and symbols that encompass UX training.

The last part I included was the user experience summary the Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in user experience, follows.

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UX icons (A, B, C, D, E, and F) and schooling icons (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G) used with permission. All other images used in collage that aren’t my copyrighted material have been used with permission. Click the appropriate links above to see image’s source.