I met Jill a year ago when she was one of my instructors at General Assembly User Experience Design Immersive Program. Jill seemed to me to be a very confident, calm, and happy person, even before I got to know her better.
I remember, she told me that I was an amazing sketcher and paper prototyper. She didn’t know it, but she made my day by saying that. I am still thankful to Jill for being so generous with her words, and for making a contribution in building my confidence.
I got an amazing chance to interview Jill, and I would like to share this useful information that she so kindly shared with me.
YM: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your story?
JD: My name is Jill DaSilva. I started programming when I was eight. I started creating web-sites in the early 2000’s. I’ve had my own businesses, worked for startups, a hundred year old Legacy Company, and made my way into teaching, which is my favorite job I’ve ever had.
YM: What excites you the most about being a UX professional?
JD: I think, helping people make better decisions.
YM: You are doing so much you teach, consult, do public speaking and corporate training. How do you find balance between all your activities? What takes the most of your time? What is your primary focus?
JD: I am still working on finding a balance. I am not there yet. I think teaching takes most of my time because I am constantly in direct communication with people. Finding time for e-mails and things like that is hard, and planning takes a lot of time too. I do a lot of mentoring after the students leave, where they ask me questions about what they should do next or they need references or recommendations. All these take decent amounts of time. I wish I had more time to give, but now I am starting a business which needs a lot of attention.
YM: What kind of business are you starting?
JD: It’s a consulting business. I would help entrepreneurs that have a business or concept idea. They would come to a workshop and it would be a MVP workshop. And I would have a cross-functional team with each entrepreneur. The goal is to have each entrepreneur leave with a real action items, a clear understanding of what their next steps are, and high level sketches of what to build and who to hire to build it. So many people don’t know where to start. They have this idea but don’t know anything about technology or design. They don’t know who to hire first or who to trust. A lot of times they spend their life savings on this. By giving this workshop we can help them to spend money more effectively, show them where to start, validate their idea, and make sure that there is a need in a marketplace for this idea. It would be pre-incubator, pre-accelerator type work.
YM: Sounds very exciting. Is it Digital Karma?
YM: How do you think being a certified yoga instructor influenced your professional life?
JD: Oh, that’s a very good question! Even before yoga I learned meditation. I think that has helped me more than anything else. It’s helped me stay calm during stress. It’s helped me connect to people. It’s helped me be clearer with my words and how I speak to people. Public speaking every day, starting a business, and being a mom all these things take a lot of courage. I don’t know if I would have this courage if I couldn’t stay peaceful.
Being a yoga instructor I’ve learned how to read people’s bodies. So when I am speaking in public I can read their body language. I know when they are tense. I can read them pretty well and facilitate conversation or movement as needed. We actually are going to start doing fifteen minutes of breathing awareness. I think the students will benefit from it, because they will be able to stay focused longer.
YM: What is the biggest challenge that you face in your career right now?
JD: I love teaching, but teaching the immersive program can be pretty exhausting. I love the idea of having a business. I am just not sure when I will take the leap from teaching to doing the business idea full time. The other part is that, by teaching, I get to see the best-of-the-best talent. I want both, but I understand it’s impossible to do both. At some point I will have to choose and make the leap. Ideally the business will give me more time to spend with my family, and to do meditation and yoga. This is the way to go. But I am not ready yet. I think it’s possible that I will do the business and teach part time.
YM: What is a product (physical /app/website/etc.) that you can’t imagine living without?
JD: That’s a good question! I’ll tell you the apps that I use the most. The one that I can’t live without is the Chase Banking app. It’s a time saver because opening your computer, logging on, going to the right section is crazy! They’ve made the app so convenient: I can pay people, pay my bills, check my balances, and so on. It’s actually clearer on the phone than it is on the desktop.
I can probably live without Waze, but I wouldn’t want to. Waze just added Arnold Schwarzenegger as a voice (laughing). It’s a delightful app, but not very user friendly in some ways.
The other one that I should live without, but it gives me pleasure is Clash of Clans. It’s a game (laughing). It’s crazy, but it’s a great time-passer.
Do we count e-mail as an app?
JD: Oh, so that’s the one I use more than any others. I barely use my phone for calling. I use it for e-mails and messages.
YM: What tools do you use to capture and organize the UX process, including user research, analysis, prototyping, etc.? What is your favorite? How would you describe your experience with this tool?
JD: I’ve had a lot of great success using Trello, because in Trello I can have lists for “To Do”, “Do”, and “Done”, and show full transparency to my client about where I am in the process and what I am working on. It’s also a great tool for communication because important questions don’t get lost in e-mail threads. I also use it in my final project presentation to my clients on the final day of work. When I post links to all deliverables, in one list and link each deliverable to Dropbox or Google Drive. Trello is a one stop shop where everything lives.
YM: Now, is a time when a lot of companies have become more aware of the importance of to applying UX steps along with product development, but UXDs still need to educate these companies and advocate for UX. Where do you see UX in ten years?
JD: UX in ten years, I think, will be one of the top positions because it covers all the different rounds of product development. IBM made the announcement last year that they are going to hire at least 1000 UX designers, and build 10 usability centers around the globe which will cost one hundred million dollars to build the usability centers. Now I think even more than a project manager or developer, you are going to want UX first. I think people will realize that it’s a very important thing.
YM: Do you have a book that has changed the way you see the world and user experience?
JD: No. There is a book that was just released, but have not read it by Jaime Levy “UX Strategy”. I have it on order. Also, “The User Experience Team of One”, because it is basically the ten week immersive course that we teach wrapped up in a very simple, easy to read book. But I can’t think of just one book that has changed the way I think about UX. There have been so many ways I’ve received information about UX that has influenced my knowledge.
YM: If you could give one piece of advice to all aspiring UX Designers, what would it be?
JD: So many aspiring UX Designers are worried about getting a job after a career change. I want to tell all these people not to be worried about that!. Sitting on this side of it, seeing how many students get jobs, knowing that the need is going to grow and grow; I am not worried that it’s an unsafe field to go into. It’s the opposite. I would tell them to not be afraid, to take that leap, do it, put yourself out there, and keep learning.
YM: Since the name of the Blog Ux is. What is UX for you?
(laughing) UX is the end experience of a consumer with a brand.
YM: If there is anything else you would like to add?
JD: I get very excited about the field of UX, because you can do something you love, you get to work with really amazingly creative people, and you get paid well to do it. It’s a win-win! Most UX designers are really thoughtful, caring, empathetic people. They are helping to improve experiences which I think can improve life. It sounds cheesy, but this is what I see with all the students that go through the immersive course. They want to do good work, and they want to help to improve lives. It’s a great field! It’s a very meaningful field to be in.
YM: Thank you so much for your time and honest answers. I appreciate it.