While most of us don’t even think about how the Facebook ‘like’ button came about or why we swipe left as a gesture for ‘no, that person is not my type’, Andrea Conway is surrounded with those creative discussions every day. As a UX designer, Andrea explores the many facets of what makes an amazing user experience and how to make beautiful designs for apps and websites.
We met at a bustling food court in Embarcadero to talk about her journey of becoming a UX designer, her effortlessly chic style, and the inspirations that have shaped her style today.
What has inspired your style?
“I went to NYU for college and being in New York as an 18 year old, I was definitely flooded with different style inspirations. I started mimicking the people I saw in the street.
Also, my first job was working for a fashion blogger and so I started going to fashion shows, running her errands, and returning her Petco toys — a lot of Devil Wears Prada kind of tasks, but it got me excited about fashion.”
What are your day to day responsibilities as a UX designer?
“UX design is interesting because there are so many aspects to the job. I am aligned with product teams, development teams, and I work with those teams on a release schedule. Depending on where we are in the release schedule, I could be doing anything from researching existing patterns, coming up with wireframes, investigating user flows, creating and testing designs, running designs to reviews, and getting feedback from other stakeholders.”
What are your favorite brands?
“I love Common Projects for Sneakers because I love the clean lines. I have a pair of white metallic sneakers and they are so comfortable. I’ve been getting into some Re/Done Levi’s jeans, Theory basics, and chunky knit sweaters from Jbrand.”
What is fashion to you?
“Fashion is an embarrassingly important part of my personality. It is an easy way for people to express themselves everyday — whether it is in wearing a cool t-shirt or wearing a pair of wild pants that speak to you but everyone else hates. It is nice to dress how you’re feeling and put it out in the world.”
What do you love about being a UX designer?
“I love that I can make beautiful things. My job revolves around making interfaces beautiful, yet functional. It makes me appreciate the things I use on a day to day basis. There is definitely a lot more to ux design. It’s cool to see what works and what doesn’t and learn why some ux trends are evolving.”
What is the most valuable skill to have as a UX designer?
“The job of a UX designer is to put the user first and make the user experience as good as possible. Sometimes it means having those tough conversations and seeming like a jerk, but you can’t actually be a jerk.”
Can you share an obstacle you overcame?
“I had been at Salesforce for 2 1/2 years as a demo engineer then a solutions engineer when I quickly discovered that I didn’t love that job. I thought it would be easy to get a job inside the company since I knew Salesforce so well, but I was a little naive into thinking that it would be easy. I insisted on learning more about the role by putting invites on any UX designer manager’s calendar and scraped together a design portfolio using html and css. Long story short, after multiple informational interviews and rejections, I finally got an offer internally. Having learned from the rejections allowed me to get my best foot forward.
What advice do you have for those wanting to change careers?
“It’s always tough to hear people say that they don’t want you or you can’t do something, but you need people to tell you that to recognize the gaps you have on your resume, your skills, and it also makes you work harder in order to prove them that you can do it.”
What animal represents your personality the most?
“Lenny Kravitz — because I wear a lot of layers that fully drape my body.
Actual animal — a cat or a rat.”
What current tv shows are you watching?
“Big Little Lies, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black.”
What are you currently reading?
“Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson”