Faculty Profile: Kelsey Pytlik, M.S. IAKM - User Experience

Kelsey Pytlik serves as an adjunct professor for the Kent State University School of Information, teaching courses in UX, UX principles and concepts, principles of interaction and more.

Pytlik completed her UX master’s degree in 2011 but returned to the iSchool four years later to teach. She was inspired to do so after attending a UX conference and running into a familiar face.

“I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Pytlik said. “I ran into one of my professors and they invited me to become an adjunct professor and here I am.”

As an adjunct professor, Pytlik is encouraging students to incorporate empathy into their UX course content and work.

“Empathy cannot be taught from a textbook,” Pytlik said. “It needs to be an overarching theme or value in all of the work that someone does.”

In her accessibility course, Pytlik is helping students think outside of their normal design process to ensure that all perspectives are being heard and understood.


“At some point in our lives, we will have some sort of disability. It’s our job to think about the end user, especially those who may have a disability, and how they might be using something.”


Pytlik stressed that UX professionals must consider different perspectives during their design practices because of the substantial impact it has on audiences.

“Our work is going to affect anyone and everyone,” Pytlik said. “Keeping the different layers in mind of who that user might be is critical to the design process.”

As the co-founder and CEO of Gild Collective, Pytlik is working to shift individual views and behaviors to break down barriers within companies and organizations.

“We are stressing the importance of inclusion and bias interruption within the workplace,” Pytlik said.

One of the services that Gild Collective offers is a gender inequity simulator, helping establish the importance of empathy and behavior change.

“The simulator helps people walk in the shoes of another person and helps them understand what those challenges might feel like,” Pytlik said.

Faculty member Kelsey Pytlik presenting
Kelsey Pytlik presents at the Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference

In addition to her work at Gild Collective, Pytlik does freelance and contract UX work, serving as a link between organizations and their audiences.

“I’ve been able to serve as a second set of hands by working on a variety of projects and brands,” Pytlik said. It’s been an exciting and interesting experience.”

As a freelance UX professional, Pytlik works with the administrative sides of different systems to create engaging, accessible experiences for users.

“For one of my clients, I’m working directly with individuals that are building the product and it’s for a software company that builds third-party software for country clubs and golf courses,” Pytlik said.

By gaining in-depth knowledge of her client’s services and products, Pytlik has been able to showcase her expertise by creating accessible, engaging experiences for users.

“I started by redesigning their mobile app, which touches a lot of different pieces of the business such as online ordering, Tennis and golf booking times, spa reservations and more,” Pytlik said. “That was my entry point in terms of being able to sort that member-facing view.”

Artificial intelligence platforms have seemingly been integrated into the communications space. While AI cannot replace the understanding of perspectives and detail, Pytlik agreed that it is important to be open to incorporating things that can make work easier.

“The role that I see AI playing in UX is helping us understand something like what are the top websites that this age demographic is visiting,” Pytlik said. “Just being able to get inspiration on what the user is interacting with is something that makes things easier.”