Beginning Usability – by Jake

Transitioning into a new industry can be difficult, particularly when it’s a side of an industry you haven’t experienced.

A few months ago I decided to leave college to pursue a different career to the one I’d been studying for. I’d been living in Sydney’s south-west for just under 18 months, studying music full-time in the city, and found that after just a mere twelve months I’d been neglecting to play music in my spare time on any of the several instruments I play. I’d began detesting the thought of actually engaging in what I had called my life passion for almost two decades because I was feeling so burnt out by being made to do it. So I packed up my life, and moved out of Sydney, the city I was born in and had moved back only almost only a year before, and to Wollongong to be closer to my family.

After couch-surfing and casually bartending for a few months, I finally found myself my own apartment and a full-time position here at the Fore. I’ve worked with computers my whole life, and for a good number of years I’ve spent a considerable chunk of my spare time looking for ways to make the technology and processes I use on a daily basis faster and more usable; whether it’s been removing bloatware and installing custom interfaces and operating systems on my devices, ‘hacking’ my commute time on public transport by finding faster ways to get to places than the direct services, or the few times in college I simply crafted a stand for my tablet out of a cardboard box and a roll of tape.

When I saw Gary’s ad for a UX Trainee, I spent a good half-hour talking on the phone to him before I landed an interview. Immediately I began reading this very blog from the start, trawling and swimming through as many concepts, lessons, anecdotes, and reviews as I could discern, learning about the reasons and methods behind testings and market research; the costs and impacts of poor and superb UX in products; the basic rules of usability; and the psychologies behind why people do things and how to be opportunistic with that.

Fast forward eight days from my job interview, and I’m sitting here writing this blog post as an introduction to myself for the company blog. So far I’ve sat in on a user testing day, made changes (however small) to the company website, written an expert review on a website, consumed at least half my body weight in coffees, and had the best work experiences of my life with Gary and Alex, indeed the best career mentors I’ve ever had.

I’m excited about the rest of my career in usability, and can’t wait to start tackling even the smaller tasks that I’m soon to be given; but first I have to stay in ‘sponge mode’, soaking up all the knowledge that’s floating around me in the office. The last thing I will say though, is that I’m so incredibly happy that I changed my career and life to find this job; I even actually play my guitar when I get home from the office now.