The A-Team: Kristen Davis
Q&A with Asymmetrik’s UX Lead
Apr 02, 2017
Kristen Davis joined Asymmetrik to bolster our user experience (UX), digital design, and software development capabilities. As our UX team lead, she’s helping us deliver awesome software that people love to use. For over 11 years, Kristen has been dedicated to the art and science of UX.
We’re super excited to have her as part of “The A-Team”! To help you get to know her better, here’s a little introductory Q&A with Kristen.
How did you originally get into this field?
I majored in Management at Bentley University, with a minor in Computer Science. After graduation, I panicked a little when I realized that I wasn’t actually interested in becoming a project manager. I had taken psychology courses previously, and I enjoyed interacting with people. So, UX emerged as a way to combine my interests. As luck would have it, Bentley University was one of the first schools to offer a scientific approach to UX in their Human Factors Master’s program.
What fascinates you about UX?
I’ve always been fascinated by the way the brain processes information. Practically everything you interact with on a daily basis is designed. There’s a science behind it all and a predictable path that people take when they’re dealing with a website or an interface.
I’ve always been fascinated by the way the brain processes information.
What’s also interesting is that UX can influence the way people interact with technology. For example, early versions of Windows built the “shutdown” control within the “Start” button. This was very counterintuitive. Why would you press “Start” in order to shut down? But the concept of an operating system with a user interface was still new and evolving. So, people adapted and learned this behavior that really doesn’t make much sense.
What’s the most common misconception about your field?
Many people don’t realize there’s a whole scientific research process behind UX. It’s based on cognitive psychology principles. It’s not just about creating pretty websites. The goal is to create a logical flow from one step to the next where the research validates the design. There’s definitely a lot of empty and flashy design out there, where you can tell that the end user was not a consideration!
Voices of end users are a powerful thing.
Voices of end users are a powerful thing. We do a lot of research with people of different backgrounds including sex, age, education and reading level. We’ll give them a defined task to do, such as going to a medical provider’s website and booking an appointment online. As they perform the task, we track where their eyes go on the page. We track the number of steps it takes to complete the task. And, we especially track if they drop out because they can’t find where they need to go or get frustrated and give up. Products fail all the time because the designers don’t factor in the end user.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing UX?
I honestly wouldn’t be doing anything else! I’m really passionate about all things UX. One day I’d like to support the design of a system for people with intellectual disabilities. For example, there are interesting new ways to leverage gaming systems to teach autistic children. I’d love to be a part of that.
I have lots of hobbies: weight lifting, hiking, knitting, working on cars and off-roading, reading, and gardening. But, UX is my first love!