New year, new goals and new energy! EchoUser team gets together to write their visions, hopes and plans to grow, evolve and keep doing kick-ass work.
Democratize Research Skills and Approaches
Leslie Garner Franklin, Experience Researcher
Last year, I really wanted to bring my clients on the UX journey with me and teach them about the “why” behind the “what” that we do in the UXR field. As I’ve been and will continue on a long-term project within a new-to-UX organization, I want to lean even more into this goal this year with an explicit focus on democratizing the skills and approaches we use in experience research. By positioning myself as a “player-coach” so to speak, I can build others’ capacity to incorporate what we do into their own practice. Empowering and equipping others to do even the lightest research is really the only way for research to get the strategic seat at the table it deserves.
Infusing More Creativity into Research
Vidhi Goel, Experience Researcher
2020 for me is going to be a year of building expertise and niche in research and strategy, specifically striving for more creative thinking in research. Research is often thought of as methodical, structured and logical, but it is in equal parts creative thinking and critical thinking.
We can strive to break out of the mold from the moment we build proposals for methods/approaches, gather inspiration, and collaborate and build inclusive processes. By allowing myself to be creative, I can bring more play, energy and personality into my projects. This will especially help me to think holistically about the problem space and take my research insights to the next level of actionability.
Make prototyping more fun and engaging
Conner Hunihan, Experience Designer
At EchoUser, research is in our DNA (even us designers), and like good researchers, we strive to be methodical and principled in our exploration. It’s why we focus so much of our practice on giving abstract ideas concrete form, prototypes; service blueprints, concept models, personas, user journeys – because these artifacts give structure and invite stakeholders to engage in our process.
Looking back over 2019, I see these glistening, magical moments where the designer and client were completely aligned. In these moments, the dexterity with which a designer can communicate an idea, share it, and collect feedback is the difference between one designer working alone, and an entire team of domain experts working in conjunction.
This is why for 2020, my resolution is to make prototyping more fun and engaging. I want clients to look forward to design check-ins, share prototypes with their colleagues (and not have to send along the slide deck!) and feel like we hear and understand their feedback, even when they’re not 100% clear on how they feel about it.
Continue to Grow and Specialize
Deniz Ilhan, Associate Experience Researcher
2019 was the year I entered the UX field as a full-time professional, knowing I bring analytical, methodical skills and effective communication to the table. However, I braced myself for a continuous – and at times steep – path of learning, self-improvement and collaboration. In my first year in UX, EchoUser has proved itself as “the” place to pursue self-growth as a UX professional.
I’m hoping that 2020 will continue to be a year of growth as well as specialization. I aim to translate my growing proficiency in research designs, methodologies, communication and client relationship management into increased productivity, stakeholder satisfaction and becoming a resource for my colleagues. In addition to these personal goals, I am confident we will succeed as a company in evangelizing UX principles in our stakeholders so they can integrate UX into their business plans and product development processes.
Find Balance and Create Something New Everyday
Brandon King, Experience Designer
It is easy to be engulfed by client work, especially at a consulting firm. Even though it’s great to be busy, I want to find a balance between working for clients and my passion projects in 2020; I believe having creative pursuits outside of work can be really beneficial for productivity at work and prevent burn out. I have always been deeply interested in and every so often dabbled in visual and animation design, so I want to pursue this more.
My resolution is to carve out time to focus on personal growth and creativity while I work hard on client projects. Whether it’s a quick animation or a small graphic, I want to create something new every day to keep my creative juices flowing.
Expand My Horizon
Yifei Liu, Senior Experience Designer
My 2020 theme is exploration. It is easy to stay in our comfort zone and keep doing what we are already confident in doing. To break away from this comfort, we are always encouraged at EchoUser to learn new things and stay abreast of industry trends, so that we are well prepared to take on any kind of project from any client.
I want to explore and dive deep into new areas such as Machine Learning & User Experience (MLUX) in the new year and ideally use this knowledge in a project.
Yi-Ying Lin, Senior Experience Designer
In 2020, I want to communicate my research findings and design ideas with people more effectively through storytelling and visual communication techniques, such as conceptual modeling. Everyone loves a good story and visual representations of how things are related. So I believe that combining the power of storytelling and conceptual modeling will help us demystify complex concepts and achieve a greater understanding of one another.
“To explore strange… To seek out new… To boldly go…”
Mick McGee, Co-Founder and Vice President
My UX resolution for 2020 is to live this continuing mission adapted from Star Trek: Enterprise and EchoUser’s similar mission to chase “Any Experience”.
This year started with passing on my 13-year CEO title into the capable hands of our now former President Rally Pagulayan. May he live long and prosper. (And that’s enough Star Trek references…) One motivation for this change was to free up more time to chase unique, inconspicuous experiences that are all around us but may not receive the full attention of user experience professionals. In 2020, I want to fully chase such experiences that can be more deeply studied with our research & design tools.
I led a project in 2019 on people’s perception of and experience with the proverbial “FAKE NEWS!”, a.k.a. disinformation. Beyond the obvious example of clickbait tweets, what do people really think of fake news and how to combat disinformation? In this project, I was fortunate to talk to people of all stripes and ages to help develop a wonderfully nuanced and broader understanding. Are there easy answers? Not even close. But I feel well poised to go forth and chase ambiguity further. I welcome this kind of exploration in 2020.
Lean in to our Strengths
Rally Pagulayan, CEO
Hello world! I’m the new CEO of EchoUser. In the spirit of the New Year, I’d like to talk about my New Year’s resolutions. But first, I want to acknowledge the great work of our previous CEO and Founder, Mick McGee. 13 years ago, he founded EchoUser and guided us to where we are today: a thriving and successful UX research and design agency. That’s no small feat and thankfully, he’ll continue to be a big part of EchoUser’s future.
Onto my resolutions: first and foremost, I resolve to NOT MESS UP A GOOD THING. We do great user-centered research and design work, build strong relationships with our clients, and offer a great place to work. In the seven+ years at EchoUser, I intimately understand what makes us successful. I won’t lose sight of that and will continue to lean into these strengths.
But just as importantly, I resolve to improve EchoUser. I’ll seek out different voices and opinions and will be absolutely open to seeing us in a different light. At a more personal level, I’ll be actively working to see the world not just as a UX designer or a leader of design and research teams, but as the CEO of a business.
Mick and I share a basic philosophy: if you’re not evolving/learning/growing, you’re regressing/stagnating/dying. The world around us is dynamic and our continued success requires us to continually grow and evolve. It’s my priority to make sure we do this.
Amplify the Potential of Technology
Jiyoon Shin, Associate Experience Designer
As many of us are steeped in technology of convenience, it’s become an unquestioned extension of ourselves. As technology learns to do more, we sit back and do less; this comfortable relationship makes me forget how powerful and life-changing technology can be. What is its true potential? Who needs it the most? Do they even have access?
Stepping outside my privileged relationship with technology made me realize how other people need technology: my blind friend uses the app Be My Eyes which connects him with volunteers who give visual assistance through a live video call. A stranger outside a bar told me about their app that connects foster youth with potential families. The ACLU Mobile Justice app allows people to send footage of police brutality, discrimination and violence to their local ACLU chapter for potential legal action.
My UX resolution this year is to explore how technology can fulfill needs rather than privileged perks. I want to urge designers and researchers to notice how people’s circumstances and contexts can shape their relationships with technology, and how we can use our power to guide the advancement of tech toward societal empowerment.
Continue to Enhance my Product Thinking
Jie Tang, Experience Designer
Having been a UX consultant for over three years, it is becoming more and more clear to me that my goal is to transition into a UX strategist. My 2019 resolution was to incorporate business principles into the design, which I want to continue this year as a strategist.
In 2020, I want to make a continuous effort to enhance my product thinking skills. Approaches like end-to-end stories from the market and stakeholder and marketing perspectives help me to identify the right problem to solve for the right audience. From there, I can understand how to tackle meaningful areas of intervention and build strategic efforts in the right direction.
Defining a Niche
Mary Yeh, Experience Researcher
I am so appreciative for all the opportunities our team and I had to flex our UX Research muscles. Because of our diverse backgrounds, our projects become so much stronger and more impactful when we’re able to work together or even bounce ideas off each other. In 2019, I learned so much and witnessed so many examples of collaborative research in practice.
If last year was all about harnessing collective power, this year, I’m stepping back and looking within. As someone from a non-traditional background and a generalist lifestyle, I want to take some time to assess my skills and find a little UX Research space that I could dig into and fill up this year. I am grateful to work at EchoUser where I am able to see a variety of projects, clients, and questions, which I hope will inform my course of study. I can’t wait to see what I learn!