I went to my first local web design and development meetup last night. The topic was user experience (a personal favorite of mine) and though the speaker freely admitted she wasn’t going to introduce anything ground-shatteringly new, a couple points she made really stuck with me. First, that we are not our users, no matter how much we think we are. This is something I’m very guilty of overlooking. It’s easy to believe that all of the users of something I design or develop will be as rational, intelligent, and tech-savvy as I am. That’s never the case though and I came to the same realization as a teacher. I expected my students to be as diligent and curious as I had been when I was a student. Designing that way, or lesson-planning that way will only lead to disappointment. It’s more effective to take the empathetic approach and to try to appreciate what motivates them and what goals they have. If you can’t be that empathetic, do some research–ask them.
The second thing that stuck with me is that I can do this. I understand why usability and the user experience are important and I’m passionate about it. Now I just have to figure out how to get someone to give me a chance to prove it! I keep reaching every time I catch a whiff of an opportunity, but it never seems to fully materialize. Any of you have advice on how to catch a break? Is it all about networking or applying to job postings or good old-fashioned luck?