Interview with Leah Ryz, UX Consultant
It’s the first Digital Drum interview of 2019!
To kick things off, we speak to straight-talking Leah Ryz, a self-employed User Experience (UX) Consultant.
Over the last 12 years or so, she’s worked with a variety of household names; personally implementing important UX improvements for them, and helping them strike the right balance between the needs of the business and the needs of their users.
Which has been the most challenging SECTOR to work within?
Hmm. I think I would have to say the financial service industry... I’ve found that many financial organisations still resist change or transformation, yet wonder why their legacy systems and unnecessary hierarchy are consistently failing them!
How do you think UX might develop AND evolve THIS YEAR?
First off, I think UX has become a very popular career choice of late. Not only because it’s interesting, but because it can be lucrative! In general, I think that UX will only truly go in the right direction when everyone starts having important and relevant conversations about it within their businesses.
What really pisses you off about THE UX INDUSTRY, if anything?
I know I can be seen as being a bit of a ranter, but there are so many things that need to change.
For example, I'm really tired of the ‘UX Elite’ - those who think that it’s OK to look down on people who might be only recently entering the field - or those who have perhaps transitioned into UX as ‘a side-step’ from a related discipline. I call it out every time because it's unacceptable behaviour. I don't like cliques.
I have also come across people who think that having a few letters after your name makes the difference - in my experience, this is simply not true. When I look at hiring someone, I’ll look at their skill-set, ambition and integrity first and foremost, and worry less about which academic qualifications they may possess.
(OK… so now I'm on a rant.) How about the so-called thought leaders who want to own the community, as opposed to contributing to or improving it? These people only care about money (which is beyond crass), and in the past, I've made a point of supporting other individuals who are the furthest thing from this.
And of course, how can we forget the businesses that claim to put UX ‘at the core of their proposition’ but are actually just faking it because their competitors seem to be doing the same? Here, I am referring to organisations that spend a fortune on hiring in the ‘right people’, but then don't afford them a voice or allow them to make a change. These businesses are simply trying to sprinkle glitter on a turd, and it's never going to get better until they are prepared to truly transform from the inside out!
I feel better now…
And I should mention that there are lots of things that I love about UX. It's an incredible space to work in.
(So quite a lot then, Leah! )
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who’s about to start their first UX-related role?
Be prepared for the fact that you may not be able to get a full-blown UX job immediately. It is an incredibly competitive industry, but do not give up - you will get there! I’d say try and network with other people in the industry and attend a decent number of UX-relevant events, if you possibly can.
I’d also say, do your best to ignore the ‘snobbier side’ of UX; people who are over-protective of their skill-set, and are a little bit threatened by new people entering the industry. Not all of us are like that, and you are very welcome, friend!
Lastly, I’d recommend not spending lots of money on courses that don't actually give you commercial experience. Commercial experience is gold, so I’d advise you to spend that time reaching out to companies and organisations directly to try and clinch some direct work experience with them.