Us­abil­ity spe­cial­ist in the dig­i­tal op­er­a­tions depart­ment at the CBC

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I do user re­search on our dig­i­tal prod­ucts, in­clud­ing our apps, our web­site and some of our in­ter­nal sys­tems. All our shows have a web­site, and some of them have their own sec­ond-screen ex­pe­ri­ence apps. There are mo­bile apps for CBC News and Sports, too. I look at how our end users are us­ing our prod­ucts and how to make it easy for them to achieve what they want to do.

At the CBC, my team is con­stantly look­ing at dif­fer­ent de­sign chal­lenges and com­ing up with cre­ative so­lu­tions.

I did a bach­e­lor in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at Wil­frid Lau­rier Uni­ver­sity, where my con­cen­tra­tion was mar­ket­ing and con­sumer be­hav­iour. Af­ter that I started work­ing at Pep­sico do­ing sales anal­y­sis in the re­tail sales depart­ment. I did a lot of anal­y­sis and re­port­ing for the drug store ac­counts, and fi­nan­cial mod­el­ling – a lot of num­ber-crunch­ing.

I did that for a year, but I wanted to do some­thing a bit more cre­ative, so I de­cided to go back to school. I came across a brand new mas­ter’s pro­gram at the Uni­ver­sity of Water­loo in dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence in­no­va­tion. It was the first year it was be­ing of­fered and it was the per­fect mix of busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy and arts. I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in psy­chol­ogy and hu­man be­hav­iour. That was one of the rea­sons I was in­ter­ested in mar­ket­ing and con­sumer be­hav­iour. Ev­ery­thing is go­ing dig­i­tal, so the pro­gram seemed like a step in the right di­rec­tion.

The MDEI pro­gram is very di­verse. Ev­ery­one in my class was from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, skill sets, life ex­pe­ri­ences, age groups and in­dus­tries. One of my class­mates was in an­thro­pol­ogy, and an­other was in jour­nal­ism for 20 years. I wasn’t ex­pect­ing that at all, but the user ex­pe­ri­ence field is so in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary, you have to look at things from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.

When I do user testing and re­search, I’m con­stantly re­minded that peo­ple see things in such dif­fer­ent ways. How we think some­thing should work could be com­pletely dif­fer­ent from how peo­ple use it, in terms of their needs and pri­or­i­ties. It’s in­cred­i­ble to see that peo­ple have such vary­ing ex­pec­ta­tions and be­hav­iours.

A lot of peo­ple say to me, “Wow, you ac­tu­ally made the tran­si­tion be­tween busi­ness and the tech field,” but I ac­tu­ally don’t see it as that big a jump. At Lau­rier, I took cour­ses in brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­sumer be­hav­iour, and con­sumer be­hav­iour isn’t that big a jump from user be­hav­iour. It’s just trans­lated into the dig­i­tal space, so I def­i­nitely pick up on things I learned in those cour­ses and bring that over into the user ex­pe­ri­ence field.

Where to study

ON­TARIO COL­LEGE OF ART AND DE­SIGN (Toronto) Masters in dig­i­tal fu­tures: $11,437/term. ocadu.ca RY­ER­SON UNI­VER­SITY (Toronto) Masters in dig­i­tal me­dia: $16,233/pro­gram. ry­er­son.ca UNI­VER­SITY OF WATER­LOO (Water­loo) Mas­ter of dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence in­no­va­tion: $14,200/term. uwa­ter­loo.ca

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