Each month we introduce you to one of our Mentors and ask them a few questions about their career and thoughts on UX.
This month we talked to Dan Healy
Dan has kicked off the new year by joining our team of Mentors this month. If you’re a budding public speaker or wanting to talk about digital transformation, strategy or accessibility… Dan is your man!
Who is Dan Healy?
I’m an award-winning Senior User Experience Designer. I work at Sophos – one of the world’s very best cyber security companies. We help to protect you from the bad guys!
I also enjoy speaking at UX conferences and meetups when I get the chance.
How did you start your career in UX?
I started out working as a software tester for a utilities company nearly 20 years ago. My job was all about testing whether internal systems did what they were supposed to do. This sparked an early interest in what, at the time, I might’ve referred to as ‘efficient interface design’ or something like that but now I realise was an early education in practical usability.
I’ve always been interested in whether interfaces make sense to the humans that are expected to use them. Since that early start, I’ve worked on internal reporting systems for college lecturers; lots and lots of intranets; e-commerce websites; apps for smartphone, tablet, and watch; learning management software; and, most recently, cloud-based cyber security software. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to work in so many different industries over the years.
What is a typical day for you?
It’s a cliche to say it but there’s no such thing. My day could involve anything from hopping from one Zoom call to the next offering UX advice and consultancy to our engineering and product teams based around the world, jumping on a plane to conduct some face-to-face customer research in the US, observing some live usability testing or simply working on some wireframes with my headphones in.
Jakob Nielsen recently cited ‘usable security’ as one of his top 10 challenges for the next 25 years of UX and I can relate to that. Making cyber security make sense to a range of different people with different levels of IT expertise is a huge but exciting challenge.
What do you recommend to someone who wants to start a career in UX?
Get involved! There are plenty of ways to get some experience of the UX world – often for free. Go along to your local UX meet up, make some connections. See who’s offering paid or unpaid UX internships (Sophos is!).
I’d also recommend listening to some of the excellent UX podcasts (The UX Podcast is particularly good!) that are available to download for free, signing up to email newsletters from organisations like UXPA and Nielsen Norman Group, and reading Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think and Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things.
What is the best advice you have received in your career?
I didn’t get this advice at work but there’s a quote from David Bowie that resonates with me and reminds me to always push myself in life:
‘Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.’
What is the future of UX for you?
Continuing to learn, grow and always seeking out new ways to tame complex products through human-centred design. I’m happiest when I feel like my work is making a difference and improving people’s lives. As UXers we have the privilege to be able to do that.
If you are interested in being mentored by Dan, or if you just want to learn more about our mentoring programme, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.