UXD Grad Wants to Make World More User Friendly
Currently working as UX Lab Coordinator for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, alumna Mackenzie Husmann, BS ‘18, MS ‘19, demonstrates how widespread user experience design (UXD) work is and how universal the need is.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Digital Sciences (now the School of Emerging Media and Technology), Mackenzie felt her undergraduate studies lead naturally into her graduate coursework in UXD. “It was an easy transition,” she says. “Digital Sciences was a very broad technical major – a little bit of business, technology and the creative side of things. In my sophomore year, I decided to minor in graphic design. That was the bridge to learning about user experience design. It really piqued my interest. I interned at Medical Mutual and then actually ended up being hired there. It was cool because what I was learning in the UXD program, the whole process of research then applying that to designs, aligned with the work I was doing at Medical Mutual.”
As the Cleveland Federal Reserve UX Lab Coordinator, Mackenzie puts her user experience research skills to work along with some UX design. Her responsibilities touch on multiple internal and external applications, but the main current project is the updating of the Bank’s public facing website. She has also helped brainstormed how the Money Museum located at the Federal Reserve could enhance their interactions visitors would have within the exhibits.
As all things during the pandemic, however, in-person visits have been replaced with virtual tours. And onsite work has been replaced with remote work. “We did have a physical UX lab in the office, eye tracking glasses and things like that,” Mackenzie says. “Since we’re unable to use that, we’ve transitioned to online tools for user testing. It’s actually been really helpful to conduct remote usability studies and interviews.”
When asked if the iSchool’s fully online graduate degree program prepared her for working remotely, Mackenzie laughs. “I would say 100% yes!” She continues, “The UXD program really stood out to me because I’ve always had this interest in making the world a more user-friendly place and a better experience. UXD does that and it lets me be a little more creative in my work. Professor Paul Sherman is really great, and I feel he’s a big inspiration for the school and for the program. I know he does a lot of work on accessibility issues and that really is important.”
Mackenzie was sure to highlight accessibility issues as part of the Fed’s overall web redesign too. “We definitely have accessibility requirements that we keep in mind when designing,” she says, “and we’re also putting accessibility requirements into all our designs. It’s an ongoing process, too. There isn’t just a list where you say ‘Okay, I’ve checked all the accessibility boxes.’ But for me, if I can improve that experience for at least one person, make the experience more user friendly, then I’ve accomplished my purpose.”