Anyone can do it.
It takes practice to be good at anything. We all start at the beginning, the end is up to us. I learned human factors and usability testing after joining the Usability Testing and Analysis Facility at the NASA Johnson Space Center in October 2002.
So, I am proof anyone can do it. However, I was not very good when I first started. I made so many errors. I did not have the educational background in psychology or human computer interaction to fall back on, so I had to learn and learn quickly to be an effective team member.
Here’s what I learned in those early days:
- Bias and how a casual word had the potential to influence a user during a testing session
- How to create interview and survey questions that were open ended and not biased one way or another
- When to shut up and let the user talk
- How to observe user behavior and identify issues
- How to analyze survey data
After 16 years of practice, and parlaying my human factors skills into UX skills, I am a much better UX researcher than I was when I started. I’m continually learning and improving my skill set. I had excellent mentors when I started and I am very grateful to them and my manager for taking a risk on me.
Thank you Jurine, Tina, Mihriban, Cynthia, Vicky, & Rosie for those initial lessons on human factors. I have a fantastic career because y’all took the time and effort to help me learn. My second wave of coworkers (Ron, Carlton, Danielle, & Aniko) helped me hone my skills and be a better project manager.