Be prepared for the cadence of freelance work

2017-11-21T09:04:02+00:00 Nov 21, 2017|Tags: , |

Work flow was good… Four weeks ago I was feeling pretty confident about the remainder of 2017. A client had locked in the last week of November for an international usability study and another client sounded reasonably confident that they’d want a large three-part local usability study immediately after, before their 2017 funds expired. I [...]

What Does it Mean to be a Junior or a Senior UX Professional?

2017-07-28T17:28:57+00:00 Jul 18, 2017|Tags: |

It was the end of 1994 and fresh out of college, I was hired for my first UX role as a research consultant. I proudly started out in the workforce as a “human factors engineer.” In today’s parlance, I was neither doing human factors nor anything related to engineering, but the evolution of UX terminology [...]

Should freelancers respond to RFPs?

2017-06-23T11:13:34+00:00 Jun 23, 2017|Tags: , , |

For the most part, my user research and evaluation freelance work comes through referrals. That means I spend my business development time on being visible and present in the UX/tech world, and then work comes through either people who know me personally or who refer me to others who need user research support. After the [...]

Accessibility: Who tweets about it and what hashtags do they use?

2017-04-26T21:02:53+00:00 Apr 13, 2017|Tags: , |

Earlier this week, I explained how a new client, George Washington University Libraries, provided me with access to data from their tool, Social Feed Manager (SFM), to better understand how user experience hashtags are being used. Check out that prior post about user experience hashtags for further information on the background of this analysis. In [...]

Be an employee or be a freelancer but be cautious when it’s full-time work that’s a bit of both

2017-06-23T11:37:14+00:00 Apr 5, 2017|Tags: , , |

I often hear from my UX colleagues that they are thinking of going off on their own. They tell me that they’re ready to make the leap to freelancing and think that they have found their first gig – maybe it’s a 3-month contract, or 6-month or full-year contract. Often it’s full-time so they know [...]

Research Recruitment Fail! Now what?

2017-04-22T22:36:42+00:00 Apr 3, 2017|Tags: , |

I largely do user experience (UX) research activities such as usability testing, cognitive walkthroughs, ethnography, interviews and focus groups all centered around how users and potential users would interact with existing, updated and new interfaces. Sessions and activities are typically scheduled to last about an hour for each participant. Like my marketing research colleagues, I [...]

The UX of Swimming with an Apple Watch: What’s it like and how can it improve?

2017-04-22T22:36:45+00:00 Mar 6, 2017|Tags: |

As someone immersed in technology both personally and professionally, I was a relative latecomer to smartwatch ownership. I had played with smartwatches, but I always found them too sluggish, not good enough as fitness trackers, not waterproof, or lacking their own data connection, particularly if not intimately integrated with my iPhone. I bided my time [...]

Should you do UX work in the Federal government when you don’t agree politically?

2017-04-24T17:23:39+00:00 Mar 1, 2017|Tags: , , , |

For much of my UX career, I’ve been pretty solidly tied to the Washington DC region. While I’ve never committed to any one specific industry, just given the amount of Federal UX work that has been available locally, Federal-related contracts have been responsible for a decent percentage of my overall consulting revenue. Although I’ve been [...]

Recording for Learning: My lessons learned & a glimpse behind the scenes

2017-04-22T22:36:39+00:00 Feb 24, 2017|Tags: , , , |

Right at the anniversary of my first / LinkedIn Learning course, I had the opportunity to head out once again to sunny Carpinteria, California. I got to record two new courses, both focused on a topic near to my heart - being a freelancer! My first course, Planning a Career in User Experience (UX), [...]

Freelancers Onboarding Freelancers

2017-06-23T11:37:36+00:00 Oct 31, 2016|Tags: , , |

I’ve enjoyed working as a freelancer for the past 8 years and have largely found that I can maintain a workload that matches what can be done by myself and Edie (the second person on my two-person team). Occasionally, however, the workload goes beyond what two people can do, and at those points I have [...]

How to create a culture of accessibility

2017-04-22T22:36:28+00:00 Aug 30, 2016|Tags: , |

I was recently asked by a UX colleague how he might be able to incorporate accessibility into his company’s organizational culture. Although he felt personally that accessibility was very important and even had the budget to hire staff that was knowledgeable in principles of accessibility, he was still working through how, exactly, to make his [...]

Aquent Blog – UX Careers and Artificial Intelligence

2017-04-22T22:36:13+00:00 Apr 1, 2016|Tags: , |

If you have seen “careers” and “artificial intelligence” in the same sentence, it’s likely because there is yet another article wondering whether certain jobs will soon be done faster and more reliably by an intelligent algorithm. Employers who hire UX professionals needn’t worry about their staff being replaced by programmed intelligence any time in the [...]

Why UX Careers are Like Cheesecake: Book Cover Revealed!

2017-04-24T17:21:19+00:00 Feb 18, 2016|Tags: |

As I considered the cover of the forthcoming UX Careers Handbook (and as a researcher myself), I did a review of the construction of other UX books to see how others had constructed their covers. A number of book covers only had stylized text. Others had a small and symbolic graphic representing a person, a [...]

Is bigger better when you’re a freelancer?

2017-06-23T11:37:50+00:00 Jan 14, 2016|Tags: , , |

As a user experience (UX) consultant/freelancer with a small business, whenever there is a new project opportunity, I need to decide whether or not to accept the project. I have to think about how well the project fits with the existing skillset and schedule for myself and one staff person, as well as consider the [...]

Getting close! A UX Careers Handbook Update

2017-04-22T22:36:24+00:00 Jul 14, 2015|Tags: , |

Although I announced that I was writing a UX Careers Handbook in mid-December 2014, it wasn’t until mid-January that I actually started putting the virtual pen to paper and writing the book. I’m excited to say that two weeks ago—five months and 82,000 words later—I turned the final manuscript over to the publisher! While the [...]

Politically Sensitive UX Issues

2017-04-22T22:36:36+00:00 Mar 19, 2015|Tags: |

While I’m aware that politically insensitive writing often generates way more discussion than writing that walks a political middle ground, I have always tried to keep my blog posts and articles appropriately balanced and written in such a way that nobody in the mainstream will find them offensive. As the body of text that will [...]

Reflection on Meeting Myself – 24 Years Later

2017-04-22T22:36:40+00:00 Mar 5, 2015|

On a recent Saturday afternoon my kids were getting antsy, and as we watched the temperatures remain far below freezing, they turned to the bookshelf to see if they could find anything interesting.  Before I knew it, my Randallstown High School yearbook was placed in my lap and they asked me to tell them about [...]

UX Careers Handbook: March Update

2017-04-22T22:36:54+00:00 Mar 2, 2015|Tags: , |

It’s been only a little over two months since I announced that I’d be starting on a new journey writing a book about UX careers - in fact, the first book that comprehensively covers the broad umbrella that makes up this hot career field since, well, ever. Thank you so much for all the support! In [...]

UXPA President’s Corner Blog: A Year of Changes

2017-04-22T22:37:00+00:00 Dec 7, 2014|Tags: , |

When I accepted the position of president for 2014, I could never have guessed what this year had in store for the organization.  It has been quite a year: a year with some surprises and a number of changes as we assessed how and where we needed to adjust for long-term sustainability.  While the board [...]

Teaching Basics of UX/Career Adventure: What Are The Required Skills?

2017-04-22T22:36:43+00:00 Aug 1, 2014|Tags: , , , |

Note: The basic tenants of a “UX adventure” are covered in more detail in the UX Magazine article: UX Adventure: Enhance your resume, improve your career potential, and feel the excitement!   In London this past week at the UXPA 2014 conference the closing keynote speaker, Anna Kirah, made the comment “If we’re going to solve [...]

UX Magazine – Go Ahead, White-Label Your Services

2017-04-22T22:36:58+00:00 Jul 18, 2014|Tags: , , , |

While “white-labeling” has been associated most commonly with limited-edition musical recordings, it has also come to refer to a situation where a product or service is provided to a company and that company then sells that product or service under their own brand. For a UX freelancer, this means simultaneously maintaining a personal identity as [...]

Observing Usability Studies: A Guide for Stakeholders

2017-04-22T22:36:33+00:00 Jul 10, 2014|Tags: |

I love knowing that one or more stakeholders are going to observe a study live.  By doing so, they will gain a better understanding of the issues and will more fully understand the associated recommendations.  Live in-person observation not only gives observers the opportunity to pick up on visual cues and nuances during the study, [...]

Nonsensical UX: The Strange Case of an Elevator Touch Screen

2017-04-22T22:36:32+00:00 Jun 25, 2014|

My flight arrived into Boston right on time, and I smoothly made it to the hotel with plenty of time to spare before my first participant was to arrive for some conference usability test sessions.  I used the time to check into my hotel room and was assigned to the 33rd floor.  Nice – I’d [...]

How sophisticated should your usability test participants be?

2017-04-22T22:36:28+00:00 Jun 16, 2014|Tags: |

Recently I had the opportunity to do a usability test for a client that had previously used another vendor to conduct their research.  As we were working together to develop screening categories for the study, we discussed the technological sophistication of their users. They knew that while some of their users were expected to have [...]

Everyone can use a mentor

2017-04-22T22:36:21+00:00 Jun 9, 2014|Tags: , |

As a senior in college in 1994, I started my first job in my existing career pathway.  I got an internship with a relatively new company, Man-Made Systems (later known as UserWorks), as a human factors engineer, doing today what would be termed user research and evaluation of websites and software applications.  As soon as [...]

UX Magazine – The Hidden Value of UX Connectors and the Future of Our Community

2017-04-22T22:36:58+00:00 Apr 10, 2014|Tags: , , , |

I was in Austin, Texas recently and, following the rules of UX Adventure, I took the opportunity to coordinate with some Austin UXers to meet at a local bar. On the day of the meetup, I checked my Twitter account and noticed that our rendezvous had been tweeted by something called “” I didn’t give [...]

Quirk’s Marketing Research Media – What Qualitative and UX Researchers Can Learn From Each Other

2014-03-24T16:41:18+00:00 Mar 24, 2014|Tags: , , |

Article Abstract: This article focuses on how user experience research is unique in the marketing research space and why qualitative researchers must understand the differences to succeed in usability testing. While both marketing research and user experience (UX) research certainly add commercial value, marketing research is focused on getting the right product sold with the [...]