From Computer Engineering to UX
I first found out about User Experience when I was in the final semester of my Computer Engineering degree course. It was an eye opener because I saw a new perspective towards creating systems. Until then, I had only seen the technical aspect. Now I saw that I should also be thinking about how people use the system. Their expectations, their thought processes, and their emotions.
Programming and software development are meaningful of course, but I felt like I needed more than a set of requirements and a deadline to achieve a sense of fulfillment. It was then that I decided I wanted to venture into the world of user experience. The two year MS in HCI program that I was a part of was a great learning experience, and it satisfied a part of me that wanted to do something meaningful.
I enjoyed learning about Human Centered Design, and delving into the mind of the user. In every heuristic evaluation, every cognitive walkthrough, and every user evaluation, I found the sense of fulfillment that I had not felt in my years as a student of Computer Engineering.
Blogging- hobby turned passion turned creative conduit
In 2013, when I was in the third year of engineering, I decided to try my hand at blogging. After a few attempts at writing regular blog posts about the Bundesliga, I found that my interests lied in writing about technology. Smartphones were just beginning to become more commonplace, and I was following a lot of technology bloggers and YouTube personalities that reviewed these phones. I emulated those tech bloggers and decided that my goal was to one day become successful enough to get “review devices”- devices lent/given to bloggers for the purpose of writing a review.
I was an Android Enthusiast back then, I rooted my phone within hours of buying it, and flashing custom ROMs was a regular habit. The smartphone I had wasn’t really the best, and new ones were being released every few months. Getting phones for free was really the ideal situation for someone in my shoes.
I began writing for tech blogs, and also was the co-editor of the college magazine for one year. This is when I really found that I have a passion for writing. The blogging definitely helped when I had to give the GRE and TOEFL exams later that year.
In the summer of 2015, when I was pursuing my Master’s Degree, I contacted pocketnow.com to see if I could write for them. Luckily they liked my style and I was able to contribute to their website. I had been following them for a few years before this point, and it was a great step towards one day being able to get my own “review device”. That goal was on the back burner because of the whole UX revelation, though.
Speaking of the UX thing, one of the things I had to do as a part of my course was write weekly assignments where I had to summarize a few academic papers. It was a chore, but the subject matter and the topics themselves were very thought provoking. However, the academic style of writing really began to affect my own style. I realized that summarizing academic papers every week didn’t count as writing something. I had to get back to blogging.
It was then that I decided to start blogging about the things I was learning. That ended up being a great idea because it let me think about the concepts at my own pace, and I was able to break free from the “academese” that had begun to creep into my style.
Giving back to the UX Community
Towards the end of my master’s course, I started applying for jobs. I saw that there was a lot of misinformation and lack of clarity, when it came to peoples’ perception of UX. Different companies had different ideas of what UX meant to them, and because UX is a relatively nascent field, it led to a wild west like hiring landscape.
I felt like I had to do my bit to clear the confusion that surrounded User Experience. I had already started blogging about UX, but then I decided I should approach contemporary topics that people were debating about in professional circles.
This is where I am now. What started as a hobby in 2013, has now become a passion, a creative conduit and a way for me to contribute to the UX community in my own way.
This is what ShriViews is about- me trying to learn and imbibe knowledge, writing about it in a clear and simple way, and providing my own personal opinions about it, in an attempt to contribute to UX discourse.