Zoë Kaler (MS/IM '18) serves as a senior user experience (UX) designer for the national digital services firm West Monroe. She credits the iSchool with preparing her for a rapidly changing technology landscape.
Where do you work and what is your role?
I am a senior user experience (UX) designer for West Monroe in Chicago. My job duties include working with stakeholders to understand the project and the problem at hand and then working with my team to brainstorm solutions. We use tools like Miro, Adobe CC, and Figma to help with ideation and implementation. Research is a big part of this process as well. We use research tools to talk with users and understand if what we’re proposing works for them.
What do you like best about your job?
There's no feeling like seeing your work implemented! The first time I saw one of my designs on a live website, I could hardly contain my excitement. It was a Smart Meter Rollout Map of Missouri for Ameren.com. I was like, "Hey, I made that!" It was so cool and made me feel important.
What do you see as the most important impact of your work?
UX adds the most value to product development by advocating for the user and including them in the design process. The earlier we get feedback, the earlier we can make changes, and the less likely we are to launch a product that doesn’t work for users. This saves the business both time and money later.
How did the iSchool at Illinois help you get to where you are today?
Technology is constantly changing. The next big software/tool/process is imminent. The iSchool is aware of this and prepares students accordingly. I was exposed to so many technologies as an MS/IM student, and once I entered the tech world, I was ready to adapt when necessary.
What advice would you like to share with iSchool students?
While you're an iSchool student, take advantage of the University's Research Park. Go to the Research Park's networking events/career fairs and meet with the site managers. They are passionate about students and want to help. Working at the Ameren iCenter was a dream and one of my favorite parts of grad school.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy practicing yoga, throwing pottery, and hanging out with my tabby cat, Huck.