UX research that doesn't involve screens
November 15, 2018 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm a UX researcher and I love what I do. However, I don't particularly enjoy building software experiences, especially for capitalist purposes. What sorts of careers or roles might I like that put my skills to good use for a worthy cause, and don't primarily involve designing for screens?

I can't change jobs anytime soon as I'm on a visa and dependent on my current employer to continue living in the UK. I'd like to start planning for my next career, with the aim to achieve it in 2-3 years' time.

I'm a senior-level UXer, but other experience that I'd love to be able to draw on is sociolinguistics (PhD) and design (mainly graphic design).

Areas that interest me: funeral care, forensics, crime, inclusion and diversity, politics, environment, crisis situations (although I'm not actually great IN a crisis), mental health, strategy, logistics and puzzle-solving.

Things that terrify me: high stakes, huge responsibility, managing people, being in charge, no room for error, public speaking and long stretches of social interaction.
posted by iamkimiam to Work & Money (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Look at print design jobs at larger nonprofits (ie large enough to have multiple designers).
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2018

Textbook design or non-screen learning materials for kids?
posted by heavenknows at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if these would appeal to you but: I work for a huge hospital system that has a UX team for their insurance apps and websites. And the particular specialty hospital that I'm in has a Manager of Patient Experience. She is in a senior leadership role and basically solves complex problems with the focus on making sure that we have a patient and family-centered care model. She does process improvement that can range from hospital way-finding to figuring out how patients will flow from emergency department, operating rooms, and outpatient/inpatient units to designing a better discharge experience. From what I understand, a lot of it comes down to interaction with patients and families to learn what they need.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

It's a slight pivot but you could easily do what i do: change management in our employee experience team. UX principles are basically extended to the entire employee technology experience wherever and however they occur.

I like change mamagemt because I enjoy the almost narrative nature of working on a project that has a defined beginning, middle and end; it draws heavily on analytics skills; it's ultimately about helping people; and these days out mostly has a technology bent.
posted by smoke at 12:00 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Experience design or customer experience roles - I am in this field. There's a surprising amount of clamor for in-house talent in the US for roles like this - grounded in research and data, using human-centered design methodologies, with an end result of solving process, communication and customer serivce/customer relationship issues. My current employer recently engaged North Highland/Sparks Grove to come in and consult to stand up an in-house organization to do this work, so as to stop paying lots of steep consulting fees to do it.

There were a couple women on that team from the London office of North Highland, and they told me this work is thick on the ground there, too. Really interesting tools, resources and guidance on gov.uk - if you refocus your search from UX (which at least in the US directly implies technology experiences) and instead look for experience design or customer experience, it may open that up some more avenues to explore. Happy to chat about my US experience if you MeMail me.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:01 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're not already steeped in it from your career in UX, look into a service design approach to non-screen experiences. Service design coordinates the backstage and frontstage to ensure a cohesive experience, and it often has nothing to do with screens.

Examples of where service design methods can help non-screen experiences:

- Wayfinding in transportation settings
- Funeral planning/end of life care
- Public health initiatives
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:01 PM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

City Government 411 programs often need graphic and UX designers for communications and data portals.
posted by q*ben at 12:16 PM on November 15, 2018

Best answer: I recently was at a conference and two of the speakers talked about how they used UX-y techniques—specifically experience mapping—for very non-software, non-capitalist causes. One related how he had led an experience mapping exercise for an organization that is dedicated to getting people out of extremist movements; the other used these techniques to help identify gaps in support programs for victims of domestic violence. The tools and techniques of UX research can be quite transferable to the right organization; as ImproviseOrDie suggests, you might want to expand your search to consider service design rather than UX.
posted by synecdoche at 3:34 PM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

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