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Tell us a little about your background, what led you to the career path you are on today?
Far far away and a long time ago, I did ad-hoc support for friends and family. Spending so much time helping users overcome the same design bumps in software was frustrating. If only there was a way of helping multiple users at once… like removing the pain point in the first place! There were no UX specific roles at the time, but I did work on digital visual design. From there I moved into project/product management roles that involved artistic direction. I followed and read about the rise of UX and gradually moved into positions more focused on it.
What are some of the aspects that you love most about your career?
I love that my career is essentially about empathy and advocacy. While the products we make don’t always ‘disrupt’ or make the world a better place, we can at least prevent a few headaches and swearwords.
What predictions do you have for User Experience in the next 3 years?
More interactions that don’t require pointer device, keyboard or even screen. Minority Report had ‘cool’ concepts and inspired many companies to invest in UX, but voice assistants like Siri and tiny gestures in Google’s Project Soli are infinitely more practical and potentially life changing.
I’m also very interested in where we go in the VR space, interfaces came all the way from skeuomorphism only to go back to it in a more extreme way? I think we can do better.
What is your favourite part about being an educator at BrainStation?
I didn’t have the ability to talk directly to people doing the types of job that I wanted to do. It feels great to be able to give an unfiltered picture of the day-to-day realities of the industry that might otherwise take years to discover.
What’s the main thing you want each of your students to walk away with after 10 weeks?
How to sketch. Capturing your ideas and then being able to iterate is (other than empathy) the key skill needed for innovation and creative success in this industry.
Stephen Johnson is Senior User Experience Designer at Fortinet and an Educator for BrainStation’s User Experience Design course in Vancouver.