Senior UX Designer at Methods, accessibility advocate and YouTuber, Jadene Aderonmu is the next guest of our Women in UX blog series! Read along her interview with UXtweak where she shares her thoughts on diversity in tech industry, how she started her UX journey and what brought her into accessibility.
How it all started
Tell us a little bit more about yourself: why did you decide to study graphic design, what was your background?
From a young age, I’ve always had a passion for design. I originally wanted to be a fine artist, live in Paris, and make art full time! When I went to college, I discovered graphic design. I enjoyed being given a brief and using design creatively to provide a solution. That could be a brand to create an identity for a company, right up to creating social media campaign assets to raise awareness about a cause.
At what point did you realize you want to transit into UX and accessibility and what was the reason for that?
If I’m honest, I stumbled into UX accidentally. I was applying for a more senior design role, and during the recruitment process, the company realised that their requirements had changed and needed a UX Designer. They pitched this to me, and when I heard what UX design involved – research, advocating for users, and engaging with stakeholders, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to be doing. I continued with my application for the new UX Design role and transitioned into UX.
What was your first serious UX design project and how did you get it? What were the challenges you faced as a beginner?
My first UX design project was redesigning a website for a local council in my first UX role. It was a more challenging design task as a new UX Designer because the website had to be accessible by law in the UK. I was lucky enough to work alongside a brilliant designer, Jack, who taught me a lot about accessibility during my time there. Although I had a background in graphic design, UX was different, so I learned quickly as a beginner and wasn’t afraid to ask for help when I needed it.
Accessibility in UX
So it was your first project that brought you into accessibility?
Yes and no, I started my career as a digital designer. I didn’t know much about accessibility then, but in my first UX role/project I learned so much and worked hard to implement what I’d learned about accessibility into my work.
Do you think the topic of accessibility is given enough attention in UX?
Not at all, I think accessibility should be given more attention in UX. The more we discuss, implement and learn about accessibility the better our digital products and services will be.
Inspiration, challenges, advice…
You’ve been a freelancer for more than 7 years. How would you describe that stage of your career and why did you decide to go back to full-time?
My time spent freelancing was where I was open to taking on different projects, mainly for start-ups, non-profits, or recommendations from people I knew. I liked helping people with ambition ideas nail their branding or explore user flows and initial prototypes of their ideas. I did this while finishing my degree then alongside my full-time role, so I only ever took on one project at a time, but it was exciting. Once I started mentoring and teaching about UX through Youtube and Instagram I wanted to free up my time to work on my side projects, so my freelancing days are over. Who knows, an exciting new project might tempt me back one day!
How did you decide to become a mentor?
Once I was no longer a beginner in UX and started sharing what I’d learned on Instagram, and I had people reach out to me for help on their journey too. Seeing a need for additional support, I decided to become a design mentor to help new designers or those transitioning into UX get the answers and support they need. I mentor through Superpeer where I cover anything from design chats to portfolio reviews and mock interview prep.
Do you have one project that you’re most proud of?
Yes, the first website I designed in my first design role was a project I’m most proud of. I had a lot of freedom to push the boundaries on that design, speak with developers and share ideas with the client.
Why did you decide to start a YouTube channel? What was your initial intent, what message did you want to bring out there?
I first started a Youtube channel to share what I learned as a UX designer and improve my public speaking/presentation techniques. It’s grown a lot over the past year! I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have come from it.
What advice would you give to those who are just starting their UX journey? What do you wish you’d known at the beginning?
Experience is key. I found out toward the end of my degree the value of industry experience, and picked up an internship for six months before I graduated. I’d advise anyone starting in UX to gain work experience, internships or freelance opportunities to build on their design experience.
What would you say is the most exciting thing about your job?
Working with people who will use the end product, their feedback is essential to designing brilliant products and services. So hearing first hand what challenges they’re facing or using data and insights to identify issues and create solutions to solve them is exciting.
Women in UX
What’s it like being a woman of color in the UX industry? What advice would you give to others who may have a higher chance of experiencing bias in the industry?
Being a woman of colour in the UX industry I don’t see many people who look like me working in tech. I am lucky to have found some great resources, like the UI narrative podcast and other online communities, to remind me that I am not the only one. I know that my experiences give me a unique perspective on the work that I do. I encourage others to seek out those communities, learn, share experiences and support other people who may have a higher chance of experiencing bias in the industry too.
Do you think there is a lack of diversity in the tech industry? A lack of women, people of color,…?
That’s a tough one to answer, I think it’s not just women or people of colour. I think we’re on our way to having more diversity, inclusion and gender balance in tech but we still have work to do on that yet.
What is your message for all the women in the UX industry or in general?
I’d say you’re all so awesome! Keep doing what you do 🙂
I’m always so inspired by the brilliant things women in UX (and in general) are doing, and I’m sure they encourage and inspire others too.
Liked our interview with Jadene? Read more interviews from our series Women in UX.